IAIN ROBERTSON

Highway Code

Highway Code

As an individual dedicated to providing sound information to readers, Iain Robertson believes that a recent survey has revealed a most disturbing fact about how little regard we have for the ‘rules of the road’.

Exhibiting a liberal ‘live and let live’ attitude towards most things, I have always believed that where a cause and effect situation is at stake, notably around aspects of road safety, adherence is far preferable to avoidance. That fellow motorist who endangers your life, let alone the other motorist he is headlamp-flashing into your path, scares the pants off me!

‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’ and a reported one-in-four motorists has simply never picked up their copy of the Highway Code since first passing their driving test, according to data gathered by Halfords Autocentres as part of its Roadworthiness Week campaign. The nationwide servicing and repair chain surveyed over 22,000 customers as part of a Roadworthiness Quiz, which uncovered unwittingly the disturbing fact.

AFD SkodaA total of 36% of drivers confessed to not reading the rules of the road since passing their test, with one-in-five drivers admitting that it was over a decade since they picked up the road users’ manual. Under normal circumstances, while there is neither viable, nor logical excuse not to ‘revise’ road rules, because of the impact that transgression might convey, when you reflect on current driving standards, it is amazing that we do not have more fatalities on our roads.

Andy Randall, Halfords Autocentres Managing Director, said: “Our Roadworthiness Quiz has produced some very interesting findings, including that some drivers could benefit from refreshing their knowledge of the rules of the road. We’re as passionate about road safety as any organisation can be, which is why we want people to prepare ahead of any forthcoming holiday periods, when on-road conflict is sure to increase and occur.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

The quiz features 11 questions aimed at testing drivers’ knowledge, in a fun, interactive format, which also aims to help road users understand some of the newer, or less well-known of current motoring laws. If you wish to try it for yourself, it can be found at www.halfordsautocentres.com/advice/news/quiz-how-roadworthy-are-you.

As well as the Highway Code questions, motorists can also test their knowledge of ‘queue jumping’, find out about the laws around windscreen washers and tyre tread depth, as well as gaining tips on how to ensure their car passes its MOT first time around. The aim is to provide a bit of fun, although the interactive quiz element also broadens drivers’ knowledge and can help to keep our roads safer, as well as putting road safety and preventative maintenance at the front-of-the-mind for those intending to undertake longer road trips during the holidays.

The initiative has won the support of Highways England, which is very keen to keep the country’s network of motorways and major A-roads running smoothly and safely during the Easter getaway of 2019. Richard Leonard, Highways England Head of Road Safety, said: “We want all drivers to arrive at their destinations safely and we urge motorists to make sure that they are ready for their journeys by checking their vehicles beforehand. Simple checks of things like tyre treads and pressures, along with making sure you have plenty of fuel and oil in the vehicle, can all help to prevent breakdowns. This quiz will remind people helpfully about the importance of those checks.

DSCThere are in excess of 85,000 breakdowns a year on our country’s roads and, of those, around 40% are preventable with better vehicle maintenance. Fewer breakdowns can also equate to better safety all round, for drivers, their passengers and those involved in recovery and incident management on the nation’s roads. However, being able to comprehend road signs, not just in the UK but on continental roads too, must be regarded as essential information, otherwise being stopped, facing charges and fines will become another, perhaps even greater annoyance factor.

We have a duty not merely to ourselves but also to our passengers and other road-users to conduct our vehicles along public highways in a responsible and legal manner. Just ask yourself a simple question: What does the 50mph speed limit imply?

In a country, where the National Speed Limit is 70mph on motorways and dual-carriageways, a 50mph limit may be applied, where conditions demand it; conditions created by the close proximity of buildings, more junctions, greater traffic density, insufficient pavements and because the stopping distance is greater at 60mph than at 50mph. Yet, ‘sticking to the limits’ may seem wondrously righteous but, if the environment at the time means that 34mph might be more appropriate, you need to remember that 50mph is NOT a target to be attained but is a maximum not to be exceeded. There is often a perfectly valid reason for it.

Far too many drivers drive ‘blind’. Far too often they do not even spot the road signs, let alone understand what they state. The Highway Code provides legal guidance to help the motorist remain within the law. Finally, if you are going to be ‘self-righteous’ about the rules of the road, then KNOW them, before making criticism, or taking the law into your own hands.

Conclusion:    While Halfords survey figures are upsetting, we believe that the real figures are actually a lot worse. We urge you to locate, or replace your copy of the Highway Code, and, when you get a chance, read it. You will be surprised at what you might find!