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Drivers could have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians under Highway Code shake-up

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Road safety campaigners claim the Highway Code is unclear about what drivers should do when turning, meaning roads are unsafe.

British drivers may legally have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians when turning to make roads safer.

The Department for Transport is considering shaking-up the Highway Code to boost protection of vulnerable road users going straight on at junctions while motorists turn off.

Road safety campaigners claim the Highway Code is unclear about what drivers should do when turning.

Rule 170 of the code states that pedestrians have priority "if they have started to cross" but does not explain what should happen when someone is about to step off a pavement at the same time a vehicle arrives at a junction.

If the changes are made it would bring the UK in line with the US where pedestrians always have priority.

The government is also considering introducing the Dutch Reach technique to reduce cyclists being hit by car doors or overtaken too closely by vehicles.

Introduced in Holland about 50 years ago, the technique involves drivers opening doors using the hand furthest from the handle to force them to check over their shoulder for approaching traffic.

Last year 101 cyclists died in crashes on Britain's roads.

Cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman said: "Cycling and walking are increasingly being understood as crucial parts of an integrated approach to issues of health, obesity, air quality and town and city planning.

"But this will only happen if people feel safe on the roads.

"These measures are part of a steady process of improvement and reform designed to achieve just that."

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at charity Cycling UK, said: "Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike.

"That's why Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to the Highway Code rules for many years, to make the requirements crystal clear to give enough space when overtaking a cyclist, wait if you can't, and look before you open your car door.

"We're delighted the government has listened and we hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users."
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