Code exists for a reason

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When was the last time you picked up the Highway Code and read a few chapters?

Yes, I know the answer so don’t worry. I can hear shouts already of “it doesn’t matter – the Highway Code is not law – it’s simply a guide.” Correct.

We think of it more as a code of practice for road users and as such, a reference tool for considering who is responsible when collisions occur. Courts use the code in this way as well.

Let me bring your attention to Rule 126. Stopping Distances. “Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear.”

To me, this is crystal. As a road user in charge of a vehicle (i.e. THE DRIVER), it is your responsibility to drive in a way you can stop, before hitting something stationary or something that has pulled out in front of you. Has anyone got a different interpretation?

It’s a great little rule to mention to someone when they are mid way through a story involving them hitting the car in front, which “just stopped for no reason at all...”

I suggest that Rule 126 covers things like following another vehicle and leaving enough distance so you can stop safety even if they throw out the anchors for no reason.

It also applies in other situations when you can’t see what lies ahead – perhaps because you’re blinded by the low sun, can’t see for fog or dazzled by the lights of an oncoming car?

Many, many times I’ve arrived at a collision scene to be met by shouts of “it’s the driver in front’s fault, he/she stopped suddenly and I ran into them.” According to rule 126, it’s not their fault, it’s the driver who ran into them. Interesting point. What do you think?

Probably brings me on to another topic about the Highway Code as nobody ever reads it unless they have a driving test booked. Should we have some sort of regular re-certification for drivers? I mean, abilities change with age, bad habits set in, drivers become complacent, vehicles get faster, quieter, roads get altered. Would the roads be any safer if, say, every driver had to resit a driving test/do a Highway Code theory test every five years?

Firearm and shotgun certificate holders go through a rigorous renewal process – is there really much difference between a loaded shotgun and a car in the wrong hands?

Mull that one over as you sip your coffee. How would you feel if you had to resit the test every now and again?

I’ll finish with a heartfelt plea – road based to keep this week’s theme going. If you have to overtake a cycle, whether it be ridden by a child, a mid-life crisis Lycra-clad madman or an octogenarian, listen – CYCLES GET THE SAME AMOUNT OF ROOM AS CARS. Got it? Don’t try and scrape past or take a chance. Overtake only when it’s 100 per cent safe. Or you just might be getting the book thrown at you – yes, the Highway Code.

Enjoy the early spring weather and keep safe. Over and out for now.

@gordie2009