Graham Hurdle blog: 29th August: Is it time to throw away the highway code?
29 August 2014
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Driving Instructors have always used the Highway Code as their bible, because it contains the rules and advice for all road users. However it looks like technology is now putting pressure on this trusted book to change - but should new gadgets or road safety decide the rules of the road?
If we take speed limits as an example, the Highway Code states "You mustn't drive faster than the speed limit for the type of road and your type of vehicle. The speed limit is the absolute maximum and it doesn't mean it's safe to drive at this speed in all conditions."
Yet the press has recently stated that the new Google Driverless cars will be programmed to exceed the speed limit, reportedly for safety reasons.
The Daily Mail stated. "Google's self-driving cars will be designed to exceed maximum speed limits, in a move to improve safety. The lead engineer for the project has revealed the vehicles will go 10mph (16km) faster than the speed limit. The purpose is to avoid the Google car being significantly slower than speeding vehicles around it, which would increase the risk of an accident."
Ministers have previously admitted that the current Highway Code and rules of the road are inadequate for the new generation of vehicles which pilot themselves, but shouldn't these new hi-tech cars have to be designed to comply with our road laws rather than the law be changed to accommodate them?
Lets look at signaling. The Highway Code states "Signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians of your intended actions. You should always give clear signals in plenty of time, having checked it is not misleading to signal at that time."
I recently purchased a new car and one of the new developments compared to my old car (which was the same make and model) was the indicators could be used to give 3 quick flashes by touching the indicator stork lightly. I asked the salesman when would this be used and he said "it is to be used when changing lanes on a motorway". So, once again, who has made that decision?
On my first outing I used it, but because of the speed and movement of the traffic, three flashes of the indicator wasn't long enough. I therefore had to click it again enabling me to indicate long enough to allow other road users to observe and react to my intended actions.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not against progress and technology in vehicle design; in fact I look forward to the day when we can all use driverless cars, as presumably the number of crashes will decrease.
But until that day arrives and the Highway Code is programmed into the vehicles computer, to tell the car what is legal and safe, I think manufacturers should focus on creating vehicles that comply with the law, not change it.