Government plans to make HGV drivers bear the greatest responsibility for road safety have been condemned as “extremely dangerous” by the RHA this week.
The move is part of a government review of the Highways Code. Its 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.
RHA slammed the proposals this week and urged its members to respond to the consultation on the changes, which closes on 27 October 2020.
Tom Cotton, RHA head of licencing and infrastructure policy, told Motortransport.co.uk: “This puts the onus on HGV and coach drivers and virtually absolves cyclists and pedestrians from any responsibility.
“This is extremely dangerous. The whole ethos of the Highways Code is in danger of being changed overnight when motorists have not been trained in this new ethos. We would urge anyone operating a commercial vehicle to object to the proposals,” he added.
In a statement the DfT said: “The ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ is a concept which places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.
“The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, in particular children, older adults and disabled people, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. The hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly.”
It added: “Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not. But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.
“This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, followed by vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.”