Coach operators must be aware of how changes to the Highway Code from 29 January and the creation of a hierarchy of road users impact their risk management strategy, a specialist insurance broker has advised.
McCarron Coates explains that those businesses need to both appreciate and abide by the changes, and also be seen to have done everything to brief and train their drivers on what is expected of them. Unless staff are aware of the new rules, risk management strategies, which are geared to reducing insurance claims and lowering premiums, could be “seriously undermined,” the supplier adds.
It has also sounded a warning that the Highway Code changes could potentially create more opportunities to shift liability onto drivers and their employers. That is because large vehicles are at the bottom of the new hierarchy of road users. It is important that this is recognised and that great care and responsibility is taken for all other road users, who sit above them.
McCarron Coates Director Paul Coates (pictured, centre) says: “By putting a greater onus on the drivers of passenger and heavy goods vehicles to be responsible for the safety of all others, we fear that drivers of these vehicles are more likely to be deemed at fault for accidents where there is no clear evidence to the contrary. When an AA survey suggests that 33% of drivers are unaware of the changes, it is very worrying.”
The insurance specialist advises operators to invest in driver training to ensure that staff are abreast of the new rules and technology that will enable them to provide proof if one of their vehicles is involved in an accident where the driver is not at fault.
McCarron Coates adds that operators should also pay particular attention to the driver’s all-round visibility, particularly as cyclists now have priority to continue ahead at a junction when a vehicle is waiting to turn left. Vehicles should also cede to pedestrians waiting to cross any road into which they are turning.
Adds fellow Director Ian McCarron (pictured, right): “The Highway Code clearly states that although failure to comply with rules that do not use the words ‘must’ or ‘must not’ will not cause a person to be criminally prosecuted, the Highway Code may be used in court proceedings brought under the Road Traffic Acts to establish liability. We urge coach operators to swiftly upgrade their risk management and seek advice on how to better control their risks under the new regime.”
Information on the changes here.