A motoring expert has likened changes to the Highway Code by the UK government to a "an episode of Yes, Minister”.

New rules are due to come into force on January 29 which ultimately aim to make the roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

However, Neil Greig, of IAM Roadsmart, says road safety groups are concerned many drivers will be unaware of the upcoming changes – which are the first in decades – because of a lack of public messaging, despite it being less than two weeks before they become law.

The updated Highway Code will introduce a new Hierarchy of Road Users which puts more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users. 

One of the main changes is that vehicles turning into or out of a junctions will be required to give way to cyclists.

HeraldScotland:

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Drivers as well as motorbike riders, horse riders and cyclists will also be required to give way to pedestrians and concerns were raised during the consultation that this change could lead to an increased risk of road collision.

Mr Greig said:”The big worry is that if you stop suddenly to let someone cross a side road, the traffic behind you on the main road might not know what you are going to do, and you end up with the potential for rear end shunts.

“We do need to get more cycling, there’s no doubt about that.

HeraldScotland:

“But what it is doing for the first time is laying out a hierarchy of road users that says, the bigger vehicle you are in the more responsibility you have for those below you.

“If you are in a lorry, you are responsible for everyone, basically, and our general view is that road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“One of the other things it says is that cyclists should give way if traffic builds up behind them. That never happens in my world.

HeraldScotland:

“The big concern from the road safety experts is this lack of communication and the fact they [the government] are saying they have to wait until February 1 to start talking about it.

“We are saying, you need to talk about it now. It’s a bit like classic Yes, Minister. The main people who need to know about this are motorised vehicle users.

“The problem is if you get motorists who haven’t seen this – of which there are going to be millions - and cyclists who want to use their new rights – it’s a recipe for conflict.”

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A spokesman for the Department of Transport said a communications campaign was planned but could not say when it was due to get under way.

Mr Greig claimed the process to update the code was “flawed” from the start because motoring groups had limited involvement.

He said: “The Department of Transport let the active transport lobby loose on the Highway Code about a year and a half ago and they came up with what they thought was their ideal version.

“That then went out to consultation last year, but of course it was a bit of a fait accompli, because it had been written by cyclists and pedestrians. 

“The motoring lobby, of which I’m part, only saw it when it became an official consultation.”

“We raised some concerns and they tweaked it a little bit.”

A GoBike Glasgow spokesman said: It’s positive news to see the Highway Code being updated to introduce a hierarchy of road users which explains those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

"We welcome the change of side roads of giving priority to those walking, wheeling and cycling. The Highway Code update, along with new updated design documents like Cycling by Design to be fully utilised to make cycling more accessible for more people."