In January the Highway Code shifted significantly towards prioritising vulnerable road users, making the biggest vehicles on the road the most responsible for keeping everyone safe. But what does it mean for fleet drivers in practice – and how can you know that they have really taken the new rules to heart?
The guiding principle of the Highway Code is now that those who are at greatest risk should be treated with greatest caution, and ‘those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to… reduce the danger they pose to others.’ Cyclists, pedestrians, horse-riders and motorcyclists are far more likely to be killed in collisions than bus, van or HGV drivers.
Everyone still has responsibility for acting safely and responsibly. However, in terms of fleet drivers, they must get used to being far more considerate, by law, than they may be used to. They also need to be more aware of the rights of vulnerable road users and the potential hazards this can present.
This includes changes such as:
- Cyclists overtaking the vehicle on either side
- Cyclists who are heading straight on having priority over a vehicle which is turning
- Pedestrians waiting near a crossing have right of way to cross, so drivers should stop (Rule 19)
- Giving at least 1.5m space when overtaking cyclists and 2m for people or horses (rule 212). In some circumstances it’s even permissible to cross solid white lines in order to give them sufficient space (rule 129)
- Cyclists are also now encouraged to cycle towards the centre of the lane or even two abreast, to discourage drivers from passing too close
The law uses the term ‘should’ to indicate best practice and ‘must’ for a legal requirement. However, fleet drivers ought to treat all Highway Code advice as mandated unless there is a clear safety reason for ignoring a best practice rule. In many ways the new rules are common sense, once you accept that central guiding principle that the most vulnerable are treated with the greatest caution.
Nonetheless it’s a big shift for many commercial fleet drivers. It can be hard for transport managers to monitor compliance with the new Highway Code. It won’t show up on telematics, except potentially through the proxy of harsh braking, or worse a collision. Most dashcam footage is reactive, and unless a complaint is made, or the driver is involved in an exception incident, transport managers will not even know where to look for evidence of compliance or non-compliance.
This is where a system like SmartDrive’s video-based safety analysis comes into its own.
By capturing the key telematics data – speed, revs, location – and coupling that with instantly uploaded and analysed video footage, we can help you identify exactly where your drivers may not be understanding the new Highway Code rules, so that you can proactively coach them to safety.
- Posted by Shannon McNamara
- On April 28, 2022