Highway code!

The latest incarnation of this publication became available for distribution this month. The introduction of a section on invalid carriages is the greatest addition. Smaller but important changes include a more prominent section on vehicle towing and loading, (see rule 98) and this reminds drivers that if they passed a car test after 1 January 1997 they are restricted on the weight they may tow, (see Construction and Use Regulations 1986 and Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999).
It is gratifying to see the section on ‘coasting’ (122) no longer tells us not to do it. With the introduction of ABS the previous edition of the Highway Code was plainly wrong. It still lists why coasting can reduce control and I think the wording is now appropriate. An amusing part of the old Highway Code was the ‘shortest stopping distances’, originally formulated for cars which would now be museum pieces. The table (see rule 126) is now labelled as ‘Typical Stopping Distances’, a change well overdue but nevertheless welcomed.
Less satisfactory is the fact that there is no mention that it is inadvisable to stop at empty roundabouts. Fortunately it does advise following drivers to look forward before moving off to make sure that traffic in front has moved off, (185). Perhaps The Highway Code should also advise that drivers must watch out for other motorists stopping unexpectedly.
I am very disappointed that the Highway Code still states that all vehicles MUST pass round the central markings of mini-roundabouts, (rule 188). Clearly this can put drivers in conflict with vehicles suddenly approaching from the left. The stand-on vehicle will be closer and less visible to drivers approaching from the side road. Slowing right down on otherwise clear roads will also add to our carbon footprint.
Curiously the Highway Code only advises that drivers should avoid smoking if they are to drive safely, (whereas the use of mobile phones has eight references). Clearly hours of debate were conducted in a smoke filled room to decide on that!
As ever it would have been better if professional drivers had been allowed a greater input into the Highway Code. They spend more time on the roads and they would have a greater understanding of matters affecting safety. Perhaps the “Powers that Be” think that making road travel less efficient will encourage us to use public transport. They seem to have a policy to increase our road journey times and the Highway Code is just one weapon that our Masters use to achieve this. I am disappointed that this latest incarnation of The Highway Code does little to reduce our carbon footprint.