The Highway code celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.
Introduced in Great Britain in 1931 when there were only 2.3 million vehicles on roads, but 7,000 deaths in road accidents each year, the Code was introduced to make roads safer. Today there are more than 27 million vehicles on our roads but, thanks to greater public awareness, advances in technology and several more environmental factors, only half the number of road deaths occur.
The Highway Code is currently undergoing a review to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and horse riders.
What do drivers think the code should include?
According to a survey of 14,044 AA members, more guidance on smart motorways and electric vehicles is required.
Nearly three quarters of drivers (72%) think the Code should be updated with more information on smart motorways. Drivers in the South East (76%) were the keenest to see more advice on smart motorways — perhaps wary of the smart motorway sections of the M20 and M23.
Six in 10 drivers (62%) said they wanted to see more information on electric vehicles, including charging infrastructure and road sign meanings. Currently there is no official section with guidance on electric vehicles.
A further 60% said they wanted the Highway Code to include more guidance on behaving around vulnerable road users like electric scooters and cyclists.
Robert Cowell, Interim Managing Director of AA Driving School said: “Drivers in 1931 wouldn’t believe the ways in which road safety and technology has developed over the last 90 years.
“We hope that with this milestone anniversary the Highway Code will keep up with the times and keep drivers safe and informed of the latest developments. If we want drivers to choose electric vehicles or feel safe around electric scooters, we need the Highway Code to guide them from the outset.”
The consultation received over 3,210 submissions.
Proposed changes include new and additional guidance on:
- the availability, appearance, and safe use of emergency areas
- the use of variable speed limits to manage congestion
- the use of the red ‘X’ sign to close lanes and provide a safer area for the people and vehicles involved in incidents and roadworks
- the use of hard shoulders that become extra lanes during periods of congestion
- how road users can help keep themselves safe in the event of a breakdown
- how safety cameras are employed to promote compliance with speed limits and lane closures
Do you know your pub quiz motoring trivia?
- Driver licences were first introduced in Britain by the Motor Car Act, 1903, purely as a means of identifying vehicles and their drivers.
- Hundreds of thousands of copies of The Highway Code are sold each year, ensuring that it never leaves the bestseller lists. It’s one of the few books in print that can lay claim to saving thousands of lives.
- All motor vehicles had to be registered, display registration marks, and be licensed annually at a cost of 20 shillings (£1).
- The fee for the first driving licence, which was obtained over the counter at Post Offices, was 5 shillings (25p).
- More than a third of the original 24-page booklet described the various hand signals the police and road users should use, compared to the single page given to the subject in the current edition.
- The first edition cost 1 old penny. It was the only one to carry advertisements. Advertisers included the AA, The Autocar magazine, The Motorcycle magazine, Castrol Motor Oil, BP, Motor Union Insurance and the RAC.
- The first edition contained 18 pages of advice, compared to 135 pages in the 2007 edition.