Highway Code changes would improve motorway safety

17.06 | 18 December 2017 | | 2 comments

The AA has written to road safety minister Jesse Norman MP proposing three ‘potentially life-saving changes’ to the Highway Code in an effort to improve safety on motorways.

The first change centres around what to do in the event of a breakdown on a smart motorway where there is no hard shoulder.

The AA points out that at present the Highway Code only considers breakdowns on motorways with a continuous hard shoulder, but with more than 500 miles of smart motorway currently in use, the motoring organisation says the Highway Code ‘clearly needs to advise drivers what to do in the event of a breakdown where stopping on the hard shoulder isn’t an option’.

The second proposed rule change is designed to improve response times for emergency services, by requiring drivers to create an ‘emergency corridor’ in stationary traffic to allow emergency services access to incidents where there is no continuous hard shoulder.

This is already a legal requirement in some European countries and was supported by more than two thirds (71%) of AA members in a recent AA-Populus poll.

The third proposed change would see the introduction of a ‘slow down and move over’ rule when passing broken down vehicles on motorways, to help protect breakdown, recovery and emergency services operatives working on the hard shoulder.

The motoring organisation says these changes ‘reflect progress in vehicle and road design’.

Edmund King, AA president said: “Eight out of 10 drivers (79%) say that motorways are more dangerous now compared to four years ago simply because of the removal of the hard shoulder.

“More than a decade on since the introduction of smart motorways, we see these changes to the Highway Code as a necessary step to try help save lives and improve safety and driver confidence when people use motorways.

“From next year, new drivers will be allowed to take lessons on motorways. We believe these changes would help them understand the different types of motorway they could come across before they even drive on them.

“Safety is of paramount importance on all of our roads, and we look forward to the minister taking these important points on board to enhance road safety.”

The AA says its letter was sent to Mr Norman on 1 November, but as yet it has not had a reply from his office.


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    What would the proposed change to the Highway Code be?

    “When breaking down on a Smart Motorway always ensure you break down close to a emergency refuge area so you pose no obstruction to the highway.”

    The next issue would be how to get drivers to read the new advice. Good luck with that. Jesse needs to beg for cash to get the message on TV and other moving picture media. The BBC would be ideal, the public already pay for that. Sack John Humphrys and in one year his salary would educate every driver in the country. Can anyone see a down-side to that?

    BillyL, Sunderland
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    What is the point in making changes to the Highway Code to improve safety when there is no formal process to inform qualified drivers of the changes. Can we expect yet more £ millions to be ploughed into THINK advertisements on Capital Radio and the back of buses!! It is now time that we put in place a training regime to inform and educate qualified drivers e.g. a web based e-training system.

    Derek, Hertfordshire
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

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