2023-12-17

Rule 170

The Highway code Rule 170 was updated a while ago. Last time I posted about it was before the update, and was surprisingly controversial for some reason. This time I hope less so.

The changes

The changes were actually quite subtle, in my view.

1. It used to say that pedestrians crossing a side road had priority over vehicles entering the side road. It now says that drivers should give way to pedestrians waiting as well as crossing. I say this is subtle, as, before, a driver had to allow for the fact that a pedestrian waiting could become a pedestrian crossing in an instant by putting their foot on the road.

2. Pedestrians used to only have priority half way, i.e. over vehicles entering the side road. Now the rule covers cars leaving as well, which was a silly omission before.

The main rule

The key rule here is "give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way", but it is worth noting the first part "watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians including powered wheelchairs/mobility scooter users as they are not always easy to see. Be aware that they may not have seen or heard you if you are approaching from behind"

Going well

I think the change is working!

I suspect the publicity over the change has had most impact rather than the change itself, as drivers used to ignore the old rules, in my experience.

I used to see a lot of cases where a car turning right in to a side road would wait for traffic and then turn, even though I was crossing said side road. They then slam on their brakes and get cross with me. It seems they thought I should see them signalling and wait. Obviously I could see them, but as (a) they are stationary, and (b) I had priority, then of course it should be safe for me to cross.

I am seeing this less, and I am even seeing cars coming to a main road stop with a gap to allow me to cross in front of them. Obviously if they stop on the line I just cross in front of them walking on the dotted line. This brings the other concern I have over the number of drivers that will pull away without looking to see if someone is right on their bumper in front of them!

Clarification

I like clear wording if possible, and I feel the new wording has a couple of possible issues where it could be improved.

I would hope these are silly niggles and any driver would be clear on what they should do, but given the lack of understanding so many drivers have, and the controversial comments on my last post which revolved around very specific wording, I can't help feeling the wording could be improved.

Crossing or waiting?

The rule covers pedestrian crossing or waiting to cross, but seems to be to have a glaring omission. A pedestrian assertively walking towards the edge of the road with the clear intention of crossing, i.e. no indication of stopping. In that case they are neither crossing, nor waiting to cross.

I feel a simple change from waiting to "intending to cross" would cover this loophole.

Turning

Another oddity is the use of turning. If you have a cross roads, two side roads on a main road opposite each other. Cars may be leaving or entering a side road from the other side road with no turning involved. Using words entering or leaving would clarify that stupid loophole.

Driveways

I don't think it is controversial to say that cars entering or leaving a driveway should give way to pedestrians, and I suspect it is covered elsewhere by the fact the car is crossing the footpath itself. So probably does not need clarifying in rule 170 itself.

Private Roads

I would hope rule 170 applies to private roads, e.g. entrance/exit of supermarket car parks, etc. These do not always have the usual dotted road markings. It would be nice if rule 170 actually made this clear. I have seen plenty of drivers seem confused that I am crossing in front of them whilst they are waiting to leave a car park.

However, apparently any private road to which the public have access is a "road" under law, so it would apply.

Roundabouts

This is one I have no clue on - does rule 170 apply to the exits of a roundabout.

As a pedestrian this would be very useful. As worded, surely leaving or entering a roundabout is turning in to a or from a road. So rule 170 should apply. Or is a roundabout not a junction, so rule 170 does not apply at all?

So does it? It would help if rule 170 was clear on this either way.

Turning in to a road

Another odd one is when are your entering or leaving a road. E.g. in the middle of Abergavenny there is a sharp turn between Cross Street and Monk Street. So vehicles are clearing turning in to a new road. But both are the A40, so are they? And is it a junction? The particular turning is marked as a box junction so surely it is a junction, so the only question is whether going from Cross St to Monk St is turning in to a road? It would be great if pedestrians did have priority there, and if they do, it may be possible to get the road authority to put of a sign of some sort - they refuse to put in a zebra crossing for some reason.

More law

This blog is excellent! https://pedestrianliberation.org/the-law-2/

4 comments:

  1. This is a good change, but as you identify it still leaves a number of situations unclear.

    Roundabouts is one I pondered myself recently, it two markedly different situations.

    First was exiting from a mini-roundabout in a town centre. Pedestrian was waiting, but stopping for them would have caused an obstruction for other vehicles that most likely were not expecting someone to stop. The decision to proceed was made easier by the fact that there was a pedestrian crossing less than 5 metres away that they had chosen not to use!

    Second was using a roundabout to go from a B-road onto a notoriously fast A-road. Through traffic on the A-road traffic treats the roundabouts more like chicanes and often carry a lot of speed through. Sometimes stopping to let pedestrians cross might be safe, other times considerably less so.

    Regarding your zebra crossing on the A40, I suspect it is something that is discouraged on A-roads, even in town centres where it would seem to make sense. I was going to suggest taking a look at Manual for Streets and Manual for Streets 2, but I seem to recall A-Roads are dealt with separately.

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  2. Three weeks ago, my house mate was hit by a car turning right into a side road. The driver obviously hadn't got the memo, either before or after the change to Rule 170.

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  3. If it applies to roundabouts things can get a bit weird. The Highway Code talks about taking a right/left turn at a roundabout as if they were a single junction. This implies it's possible to go straight at a roundabout, in which case there there is no need to give way to a pedestrian waiting to cross. Now whether or not I should give way to a pedestrian waiting at an exit depends on which entry I took, which could be completely uknown to them.

    There is a certain self-regulating magic to roundabouts and it seems applying rule 170 to them would mess that up in a big way. Sometimes when entering the roundabout, you have to make some assumptions about being able to exit swiftly. Rule 170 makes those assumptions much more risky.

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  4. "I think the change is working!"

    Not a chance! Not in Aylesbury anyway...

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