The laws of the road have been given a major revamp due to changes in the Highway Code that come into force on January 29.
According to a poll conducted by the AA, one in three drivers are unaware of the new rules.
One of the main changes will be a new road user hierarchy, which places responsibility on drivers of lorries to give way to cars who must give way to motorbikes, cyclists, pedestrians, and horse riders. In turn, cyclists will be expected to give way to pedestrians.
Those driving the largest vehicles have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users. Drivers also must give way to pedestrians at crossings and junctions.
According to the government, the hierarchy is designed to ensure “a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users”.
Stephen Silverman, Head of the Personal Injury department at OGR Stock Denton said: “We are hoping the changes will reduce the number of accidents on the roads but unfortunately, given that so many are unaware of the changes, there is a risk that we could see an increase in accidents while road users get used to the new system.” Mr Silverman also commented that in the short term the changes could cause road rage from drivers who are unaware of the new changes.
What to do if you are in an accident
For those unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, and subsequent litigation, Mr Silverman offers these guidelines:
“If possible, at the time of the accident take photos or notes that record time, conditions, location, road layout and position of vehicles. Also take photos or notes of signage, as local authorities have a responsibility to ensure signage is clear and appropriate. Take details of witnesses if there are any present and you are able to do so.”
He advises seeing a specialist face-to-face lawyer, rather than using a bolt-on service provided through insurance that does not provide this opportunity.
“A lot of people have motor insurers and legal expenses insurers who they go to and quite often they will end up with a call centre solicitor in another town. There is a definite advantage of going to see a solicitor face-to-face as it is likely they will be able to identify issues that may not be evident from a simple phone call.”
“Make sure you go to someone who assesses all aspects of a claim including loss of earnings, handicap on the labour market, loss of pension and treatment costs. People often settle too early and then experience issues several months down the line at which point it is too late to recover additional compensation.”
To make an appointment to discuss any aspect of Personal Injury or Road Traffic Accident claims please send us an email or phone 020 8349 0321.