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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Felix Reeves & Kate Lally & Mia O'Hare

Warning to drivers over 55 as Highway Code gets updated

The Highway Code was updated earlier this year meaning new changes were brought in. However, motoring experts have warned not enough people are aware of the changes, especially those aged 55 and above.

A survey has found only one in ten drivers would be able to pass a theory test if they were to take it again. For the over 55s, one in five admit they have not revisited the Highway Code since passing their test.

The Echo reports this is a significant concern for all road users. The Highway Code posts almost annual updates but 52% of drivers say they have never read it or haven't since passing the test.

Read more: Why drivers could be fined £1,000 when letting ambulances pass explained

Some of that percentage can't remember at all if they have read the code, the Express reports. Age Co, the organisation that conducted the survey, said it was a “concerning result” considering 75% of people drive multiple times a week, or some even daily. Some of the most commonly misunderstood rules included the Dutch Reach rule, towing and electric vehicles.

The Dutch Reach involves a driver or passenger using their opposite hand to open the door, forcing their body to turn towards the back of the car, allowing them to see if any oncoming traffic is there. The survey found that drivers were unsure whether this could lead to drivers being fined for not using the method.

The Highway Code is advisory only and cannot lead to any fines, although people can be held responsible if they break other laws, including reckless or dangerous driving. There was also confusion about whether it is mandatory to display a warning sign when charging an electric vehicle.

Carolyn Hector, Director of Marketing, Brand and Product Development at Age Co, said: “We conducted this research to uncover drivers' knowledge of the new Highway Code. While many of us think we are perfectly safe and good drivers, not knowing the latest regulations puts us, and others, at risk. It’s a real concern that many drivers could be making illegal driving decisions, completely unaware.”

A surprising finding was that 80% of respondents believe they need to leave a gap of just half a metre between their car and a cyclist when overtaking. Historically, no guidance was provided other than to leave at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.

However, the revised Highway Code actually requires drivers to leave at least three times this amount - around 1.5 metres or five feet. Only 22% of drivers over the age of 50 have read the Highway Code since it was last revised in January 2022. Five percent of these are between 55 and 64 years old, while eight percent are over the age of 75.

Men over the age of 50 were found to be more aware of the changes than women, although of those that could recall specific changes, women were more aware.

The latest version of the Highway Code, which was introduced in January 2022, provides new guidance around cyclists and self-driving cars, to name a few changes.

Since its release, fewer than 20% of respondents have read the Highway Code, with Age Co saying that it shows “the majority of us are way out of date on our knowledge”.


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