Changes in the highway code - Why now might be a good time to fit cameras to your car, if you don’t have them already.

The start of 2022 saw some significant changes in the highway code, in particular how priority to road users is assigned. However, over the years there have been numerous scams that have befallen motorists. Criminals get more brazen in their methods to extort, steal or defraud the average motorist every year. What starts out as a simple run to the shops or a drive out with the family for some, turns into anything but what they expected. Could these changes present new opportunities for criminals?

Cash for crash and roadside scams have evolved

When there was a surge in ‘cash for crash’ scams, whereby a vehicle infant of you deliberately hits the brakes to cause you to crash into them and then make claims against you, automobile associations, the police and insurance companies recommended the installation of dash cams. These can provide valuable evidence in the event of an ‘accident’ like this.

Since then, these scams have become more elaborate and can be difficult to spot. Also, a host of new tactics are being applied by criminals to entrap motorists going about their business, including flagging down motorists pretending to have broken down and then claiming they have no money.

Video evidence, essential to proving your story and acting as a deterrent.

Most dash cams on the market today will be able to record many of these incidents and make a wise addition to your family car or work vehicle. They also act as a deterrent too, as it’s likely a scammer will first check you out before trying their luck. Rather like a burglar spotting an alarm system and deciding to move on to a house without one, a clearly visible dash cam can have a similar impact on a road scammer or even thief.

Changes to the Highway Code

However, there’s now another reason for fitting these devices if you haven’t been tempted so far, and this is to do with the changes to the Highway Code recently announced by the Government and that came into force on January 29th 2022.

Why the concern for motorists? Simply because the burden on them has just increased yet again. The changes made in January provide a clear view of road user priorities based on vulnerability i.e. in the event of an accident the road users most likely to be injured. These include: pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. The changes do make it clear that all parties have a responsibility for due care and attention – a pedestrian stepping into the road or cyclist ignoring a pedestrian crossing the road.

This of course all makes perfect sense and should already be common sense. There are some more subtle changes to the code that may catch many motorists unaware. The main one being the need to give-away to a pedestrian crossing the road at a junction.

In the past as you drove along and looked to turn left into a side road, if there were pedestrians waiting to cross – perhaps at a dropped curb that facilitated disabled users the ability to cross, most would ignore them and continue to turn. The new changes now require you to stop and give way, allowing the pedestrians to cross.

Similarly, where cyclists are concerned, a motorist should wait for cyclists on the inside of them to pass before turning.

Concern has already been raised by some organisations and motorist action groups, over the potential for the new rules to increase road accidents.

New rules, new distractions

Driving in most cities and major towns already requires a driver to have ‘eyes in the back of their heads’. Ever watchful, drivers have to take care when turning left so as not to cut across a cyclist or motor cyclist. Other road users suddenly stop or turn out of congested junctions. Similarly, in busy areas, pedestrians regularly walk across a street between traffic, without using pedestrian crossings and motorcyclists tend to weave through busy traffic moving slowly or at a standstill. Meanwhile the erstwhile driver still has to watch out for traffic light changes, pedestrian crossings, road signage, the yellow congestion boxes, cycle lanes and speed limits.

While some action groups may be concerned over accidents caused by drivers forgetting to give way and pedestrians assuming they will, more may be concerned by those caused by motorists following a turning driver and suddenly finding the road blocked because the car in front hasn’t yet turned because they are giving way.

Criminal exploitation potential

There’s huge potential for the new rules to be exploited by scammers. For instance, simply by turning and stopping and causing the following vehicle to collide with them, the would-be scammer can easily claim that he was giving way to what they thought was a pedestrian wanting to cross, who may have miraculously disappeared. Indeed, scammers may even use a pedestrian as part of their plot.

Cyclists now have a clear priority over the vehicles, although they themselves have to take express care around pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, such as horse riders. Cyclists have been advised to adopt a number of practices to help them appear more visible to other road users, including using the middle of the road in some circumstances, and continuing to allow them to cycle two abreast to help protection. Some incidents have been reported whereby cyclists have flouted this guideline by deliberately riding in a manner so as to cause frustration for following motorists. This type of behaviour can easily lead to angry confrontations, all of which is difficult to prove unless you have video evidence.

If you don’t have a dash cam, you might like to think again.

Dash cameras are not the answer to all these problems, but they can help when situations turn ugly or you need help backing up your side of events. Consider those systems that also include a rear facing camera too. Using these you can track a potential scammer close in on you, pass you and stop needlessly. The same is true for having to give way to a pedestrian while turning and ending up with a vehicle colliding with the rear of your vehicle.

Let’s also not forget that currently it is estimated that there are over one million uninsured vehicles on the road today. A good rear view dash cam system can easily capture the face of the driver colliding with you, if they decide to drive off, as so often happens.

The new highway code changes may put a priority on certain road users to make them safer, but they also increase the due care and attention burden on the motorist and the opportunity for scammers to target them. Think about protecting yourself first.

Contact Foys Solicitors for assistance with personal injury or motor accident claims

For a free initial consultation or more information on our how we can help, give us a call on 01909 500511. You can also email us at enquiries@foys.co.uk or complete our Contact Form.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below