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The Highway Code dissected
Image © PA Motoring
First published nearly 80 years ago, unless you're a learner it probably feels like it was that long since you last looked at the Highway Code.But, as the Driving Standard Agency proclaims on the cover of the latest edition, the code is "for life, not just for learners!"
Image © PA
Over 27million cars in the UK…
In 1931 when the first edition was published there were just 2.3 million cars on the roads but deaths from traffic accidents were double what they are now. It was hoped that by publishing a set of universal guidelines road users could safely coexist, the rules backed up by law where appropriate. The language may have changed - the first edition ordering "As a responsible citizen you have a duty to the community not to endanger or impede others in their lawful use of the King's Highway" - but the message remains the same. And with over 27 million cars on UK roads it's more important than ever.
Image © Land Rover
Roads have changed since 1930s
The roads have changed beyond all recognition since the 30s, never mind being a whole lot busier. Back then there were no motorways of course and the emphasis in the original Highway Code on hand signals and encountering horse-drawn traffic seems quaint. But some advice remains as relevant today as it was then."Never take a risk in the hope or expectation that everyone else will do what is necessary to avoid the consequences of your rashness" might sound old fashioned but is as appropriate to 21st century driving as anything in the latest edition of the Highway Code. There are differences though.
Image © Newspress
When can you use a mobile phone on the move?
Now the code deals with modern technology in cars - detailing how to use ABS to its maximum advantage in emergency braking - and in wider society, with rules about how and when you might be able to use your mobile phone on the move. The short answer? Never, unless it's to call 999 in an absolute emergency.Of course, learning the Highway Code is an essential part of learning to drive, especially now there's a theory exam to directly test your knowledge of it and further questioning in the practical test. But it's more than just swotting - understanding the rules of the road is essential for more than just passing your test.
Image © MG
Know your braking distances
And how many of us have actually picked up a copy since passing our tests? Could you, for instance, recite those all important stopping distances? OK, the claimed 75-metre braking distance from 70mph in the latest edition is half as long again than what many modern cars are actually capable of but it's still important to know this stuff. For a mere £2.50 a new copy of the Highway Code is about the cheapest way possible to make your driving safer and even experienced drivers will find something in there they didn't know. Here, for example, are 10 rules we thought worthy of highlighting...
Top 10 Highway Code rules you probably didn’t know:
Image © PA
The speed limit for powered wheelchairs using pavements is 4mphWhen using roundabouts horses should stay to the left, whichever exit they are usingAll motorbike and scooter riders must wear a helmet, unless required to wear a turban for religious reasonsYou can drive without a seatbelt with suitable medical certification or if you’re a delivery driver moving a vehicle less than 50mIt is an offence not to comply with instructions given by a uniformed Highways Agency officerYou must slow down and if necessary stop if you are dazzled by oncoming lightsWhen towing a caravan you are limited to 60mph on motorways and dual carriagewaysIt is against the law to use a handheld phone in a car unless it is a genuine emergency and impractical to stopWhen turning into side roads you must give way to pedestrians who may be crossing the road you are enteringYou must display parking lights when parked on a road or a lay-by on a road with a speed limit of over 30mph
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