What a week! Make a few changes to the Highway Code and everyone has an opinion. Most of the yards of published and online comments have been pretty negative. The UK Government’s lack of effective communication of the changes was quoted most often. This has simply spread a lot of misunderstanding, misdirection and disinformation. There are lots of scary stories about the dangers of stopping when turning into junctions and the increasing incidents of ‘road rage’. How could any government Minister, Civil Servant, government Department, or group of MPs, think there would not be a public furore when using a ‘blame model’ of ‘hierarchical responsibility’. It’s a wonder the implied threats didn’t lead to open riots! Social media has been a godsend for those intent on painting the worst picture possible about changes designed to help give more clarity and better protection to ‘vulnerable’ road users. They persistently forgot to include motorcyclists!
Having said all of that, I think it’s time to take a breath. The UK Government is very clear when it says, “…Everyone has an equal right to use the road, and they should do so in a safe, considerate and responsible manner.” Whilst it goes on to say that it is ‘…important that The Highway Code keeps pace with change and reflects the safety needs of the most vulnerable road user groups.” The question arises aren’t ALL road users ‘vulnerable’ at some point in their journeys? Before the changes came into force, on the 29th January 2022, there was a chorus of objections from road safety organisations on the way the changes are being communicated and implemented. I have yet to find a horse that has read the highway code, but I live in hope! This would also apply to a lot of horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians too. It would, in my opinion, be a much more successful change if the primary message was that “Everyone has an equal right to use the road…and…should do so in a safe, considerate and responsible manner.” Using a ‘blame model’ with a ‘hierarchy of responsibility’ only serves, as clearly shown by the public response, to be divisive and set one group of road users against another.
Helpfully for SAM members and our supporters, Chris Dun (Chairman, West Yorkshire Advanced Motorcyclists), a barrister in his day job, tells us different interpretations in law of terms such as ‘should’ and ‘must’. Kevin Knight, Derbyshire and Hope Valley IAM has written a clear and concise article on the new Highway Code changes. IAM RoadSmart have published a set of graphics to make the changes very clear in colourful pictures.
Now that the UK Government has got road users really vexed, perhaps they could sort out another problem with our highways. Isn’t it time to sort out the crumbling road infrastructure, or is that the next thing they will mess up?
Whilst you are all out and about why not stop and take a snap to upload or send in for the SAM Annual Photo Competition. The entry form is set up on the website. You can upload up to 10 images, in either *.jpg or *.png format. Don’t forget to give a number and label to each photo in the text box. Our security ensures that only suitable images are uploaded and will rename the file to prevent any subsequent access to it. You can upload your entries here, or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be announced at the SAM AGM in April.Anyone interested in SAM activities can find them, including the SAM and Survival Skills newsletters, on the SAM website. SAM Club members can find all the latest Club events on the website’s Calendar. Read, enjoy and share your Club’s newsletter with ALL your friends and family. Until next week stay healthy and ride safely.