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Government must publicise and raise awareness of the latest changes to the Highway Code - Lords Committee

8 July 2021

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has highlighted the need for the Department for Transport to publicise the latest changes to the Highway Code (the Code).

The call comes in the Committee’s report on the draft Revision of the Highway Code Rules to improve safety for drivers using Motorway and high-speed roads which will come into force in September 2021.

The aim of the changes is to improve the guidance for drivers using motorways, including providing guidance on what to do in the event of a breakdown or incident. The Code revisions reflect the findings of last year’s Smart Motorway Evidence Stocktake and Action Plan which examined the safety of smart motorways and made recommendations for their further use.

The Committee noted that the Explanatory Memorandum that the Department for Transport had provided with the revised Code failed to explain how the Code will be changed, but in response to a request by the Committee, the Department has published additional information which explains the changes more clearly.

The Committee concludes that, as the Code already runs to over 150 pages with over 300 rules and given the significance and level of very specific action drivers will be required to take in certain breakdown situations following these revisions, public communication would be needed to ensure that drivers are made aware of, and understand, these latest changes to the Code.

 

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, Chair of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee said;

“The Highway Code is already an extremely lengthy and complex document and these proposed revisions will change 33 existing rules, add two new rules and in addition make changes to the additional information and annexes within it.

“Given the types of detailed, very specific actions that drivers will be required to take in certain breakdown situations under the revised Code, it must surely be crucial to ensure that these changes are well publicised; for example that it will in future be a requirement to seek permission of the highway authorities before leaving a refuge on a smart motorway.

“Ensuring that the public is made aware of and has access to information that will help them understand these latest changes to the Code will contribute in establishing continued road traffic and transport safety”.