Time is running out for HGV drivers and operators to oppose government plans to make lorry drivers legally liable in the event of a collision, the RHA warned this week.
The association is calling on the industry to respond to a consultation document on proposed changes to the Highway Code, before the consultation period comes to an end next week (27 October).
It warns that if the proposed changes go ahead they will put much greater responsibility on HGV drivers in the event of an accident and expose them to greater risk of collisions with cyclists.
The Review of the Highway Code’s three key proposals are that all drivers give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road, that cyclists be given priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead, and that a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ be introduced.
This would see those road users ‘who can do the greatest harm given the greatest responsibility’ to reduce road danger.
Under the new hierarchy, HGV and coach drivers would bear the greatest responsibility to reduce the threat they pose to other road users, followed by van and minibus drivers, cars and taxis, horse riders, and finally cyclists and pedestrians.
The RHA is also concerned at the proposal, known as H3, that cyclists be given a right of way when passing up the inside of a left turning vehicle or overtaking a right turning vehicle on the outside.
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In its submission to the consultation the RHA states: ‘This is a known dangerous manoeuvre for any cyclist to make. The RHA believes that it is irresponsible for this to be encouraged by the Highway Code in any way.
It adds: “Mixed messages, especially around known dangerous road use, are not acceptable. For the sake of road safety, and clarity for all road users, it is essential that proposal H3 and the related changes to the code are dropped.
‘This rule if applied will increase the risk of injury collisions with cyclists.’
Tom Cotton, the RHA’s head of policy and infrastructure for England and Wales, told motortransport.co.uk: “It is concerning that the government is moving away from the concept that road safety is a responsibility all road users share.
“We all need to take responsibility for our own and others’ safety when using the roads. We already require those driving larger vehicles to be better trained than all other road users. Training and the licensing system already creates a hierarchy that supports road safety.
“The Highway Code hierarchy proposal, while well intentioned, is wrong. It is imperative that all HGV drivers, van drivers and operators respond opposing the proposed changes, otherwise these changes will eventually become law.”
The consultation closes at midnight on 27 October 2020. The consultation document and the response form can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/review-of-the-highway-code-to-improve-road-safety-for-cyclists-pedestrians-and-horse-riders
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