Driving law changes to deal with conflict ‘largely been to no avail’

Radio caller fumes over ‘arrogant’ cyclists

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According to a new report, of over 2,000 drivers surveyed, the majority claimed that both aggressive motorists and aggressive cyclists are a threat to their personal safety. This comes after one in 12 of the 1,339 deaths on Britain’s roads in 2021 were linked to aggressive behaviour, according to IAM RoadSmart.

The report also found that potentially millions of drivers are putting themselves and other road users at risk by engaging in dangerous driving behaviours.

It discovered that almost two-thirds (65 percent) of motorists believe that aggressive cyclists are a threat to their personal safety.

An even larger proportion – 78 percent – said that people driving a motor vehicle aggressively could threaten their personal safety.

The problem is seen to be worsening on both sides of the rivalry, with six in 10 of those surveyed believing that aggressive cyclists are a bigger problem compared to three years ago.

Almost two-thirds also believe that aggressive motorists have become more of an issue over the same time period. 

The issue of aggression is also reflected in the Department for Transport’s latest road collision statistics, which revealed that, of the 1,339 killed on Britain’s roads in 2021, 108 involved aggressive driving as a contributory factor.

Road safety experts have called for tougher rules to protect all road users from aggressive people, although the popularity of such a law has wavered.

The Driving Safety Culture Report found that 61 percent of drivers were against a law which would assume that the driver is always responsible for any collision with a cyclist or pedestrian in an urban area.

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Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, highlighted the recent Highway Code changes and suggested more could be done.

He said: “The Government has introduced a range of laws in recent years in an effort to fix the daily conflicts we see between motorists and cyclists. 

“However, if our research is anything to go by, this has largely been to no avail – with the majority of respondents still reporting aggression and conflict among road users.”

In January 2022, the Highway Code received one of its biggest updates with a major push for road safety through the “hierarchy of road users”.

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This was designed to ensure quicker or heavier modes of travel have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road.

Cyclists were also given fresh guidance to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions in order to make themselves as clearly visible as possible.

They were also reminded they can ride two abreast, as has always been the case and which can be safer in large groups or with children.

However, they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake if it is safe to do so.

Mr Greig said there was “no quick fix” to the issue, but urged the Government to maintain its education campaigns on the new Highway Code.

It should also continue to invest in safe road markings for more vulnerable road users to minimise the chance of conflict wherever possible. 

He added: “In the meantime, all road users, whether on two or four wheels, should exercise calmness and restraint to help us all use Britain’s roads safely.”

As part of these January 2022 changes, the Government’s award-winning THINK! campaign launched a new communications drive.

This was backed by over £500,000 in funding to help raise awareness of the changes and ensuring road users across the country understand their responsibilities.

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