Commercial vehicle (CV) drivers need to quickly grasp impending changes to the Highway Code, coming into force, if they gain Parliament’s approval, on January 29, 2021.
A new road user hierarchy will be established, with each type of road user endowed with responsibility for anyone higher up the ‘chain’. With commercial vehicle drivers placed at the bottom, they must now protect all other road users, particularly those at the top – cyclists, horse riders and, most important of all, pedestrians.
Organisations such as the AA and RAC are worried not enough has been done to prepare drivers for the major changes in the Highway Code. A poll conducted by The AA in December 2021, found around one-third of respondents were unaware of the new rules.
Whilst it is for the police to prosecute, in the event of an accident or incident, the new Highway Code will be the reference for how road users should have driven and acted.
It is important that all drivers, including commercial vehicle drivers, appreciate that a pedestrian will have the right of way, if ready to cross a road into which the vehicle turns. Even if the person is not on a zebra crossing, the driver should stop and enable the pedestrian to proceed.
Another change will be that of a cyclist having right of way at traffic lights and junctions, if wishing to travel straight ahead whilst the driver of a vehicle is wishing to turn left. The driver should not proceed until the cyclist has continued on their way.
When overtaking cyclists, drivers must give a cyclist 1.5 metres space, when overtaking at speeds of up to 30mph, whilst a pedestrian having to walk in the road should be given 2 metres of space. More space still is required if overtaking at higher speeds. Cyclists, in the meantime, are being told to stay at least 0.5m from the kerb edge, but to ride down the centre of the road if on a quieter road or street, in slow-moving traffic and in some other scenarios.
Fleet managers should quickly communicate the changes and engage in driver education. If not, accidents, possible fatalities and personal injury claims could all result, leaving firms exposed to reputational damage, financial penalties, higher insurance premiums and costly, time-consuming court cases.
A specialist fleet insurance broker can guide you through various driver training options and explain how different tools can assist your risk management and help to lower future insurance costs. They can also work with you, to find the best insurance solutions for your fleet.
To find a broker who can assist you, please get in touch.