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Highway Code changes shift legal liability to truck drivers

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The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has voiced ‘serious concerns’ over proposed changes to the UK’s Highway Code saying it’s a frightening and irresponsible policy. 

The changes, it argues, would leave truck drivers legally liable in the event of a collision. 

The Department for Transport has proposed three key changes to the Highway Code. They are:

        All drivers to give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross a road

        Cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead

        The introduction of a ‘hierarchy of road users’

Under the proposed hierarchy of road users, pedestrians sit at the top, followed by cyclists, motorcyclists, car drivers, and van drivers, with truck drivers placed firmly at the bottom. 

This means a truck driver would have a greater responsibility to someone driving a car or motorcycle, and a cyclist would have a greater responsibility than a pedestrian.

In a statement issued by the RHA, these changes would ‘undermine the simple principle that we are all responsible for the safety of ourselves and all others when using the roads’.

‘In our view this responsibility translates into legal liability,’ the statement claimed. ‘It simply places more responsibility on the driver of the largest vehicle.’

The RHA argues: why should some road users have less responsibility and obligation than others? 

Under the new rules, drivers and motorcyclists should ‘not turn at a junction if to do so would cause a cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve.’

This means that if a truck driver is indicating to turn left, they would have to give way to a cyclist coming from behind and undertaking on the nearside.

According to the RHA this creates a situation that is dangerous for the cyclist and leaves the truck driver legally liable.

All road users are invited to respond to the consultation which closes on 27 October.

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