Posted on 29.03.2021

ACSO responds to Highways England's consultation ‘Review of the Highway Code to improve safety on motorways and high-speed roads’

The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has responded to the Highways England consultation 'Review of the Highway Code to improve safety on motorways and high-speed roads'.

The response was broadly supportive of the proposed changes to the Highway Code, in particular the additional information provided to readers on driver fatigue and how to avoid it. Rachel Cairnes, ACSO's policy and public affairs adviser, said "driver fatigue is a major cause of traffic collisions in the UK. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20 per cent of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents. Collisions resulting of this type are 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury as the driver who has fallen asleep is unlikely to brake or swerve to avoid/ reduce the impact."

Cairnes said "it is essential that all drivers/motorcyclists, including both new and experienced drivers/riders, are informed of any changes to the Highway Code. For this reason, we urge Highways England to engage with the Department for Transport and the industry to develop an effective public-awareness campaign. This will ensure as many road users are possible are provided with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to use the roads in an appropriate manner.

"It is important that the Highway Code is enforced effectively, otherwise there is a risk that any changes are rendered meaningless. This matter is particularly pressing given that roads policing has been under-resources and under-prioritised at local and national level for a number of years. As highlighted in the independent assessment conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, road policing is noticeably absent or lacking sufficient prominence in the police and crime plans produced for each of the forces in England and Wales. In order to ensure that the changes to the Highway Code are implemented effectively, it is imperative that police traffic officers are available to enforce the rules and record traffic incidents accurately. 

"Finally, the Highway Code must keep pace with changing technology and modal shifts. We urge Highways England to work with the Department for Transport and relevant industry bodies to ensure the Code is reviewed and updated when needed, thereby ensuring it remains relevant. This includes in the event that Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS), and other automised vehicle technology, become legalised."

ACSO members can download the submission in full from the members' area of the website.