Blaise Tapp: It makes sense to brush up on the Highway Code

It is a quarter of a century since the taciturn man with a clipboard begrudgingly congratulated me on passing my driving test.

By Jane Chippindale
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 9:30 am
HIGHWAY CODE: Check out the new changes. Photo: Adobe
HIGHWAY CODE: Check out the new changes. Photo: Adobe

Blaise Tapp writes: In the intervening 25 years I reckon I must’ve clocked up the best part of 500,000 miles behind the wheel of an array of largely average motors and I finally consider myself to be an experienced driver.

Good driver? I’m sure that any one of the three instructors that I paid hundreds of pounds to back in the ‘90s would wince at my driving technique, which is a far cry from the one that saw me scrape through my second test.

Mrs Tapp takes great exception to my occasional overly heavy use of the clutch, especially if I am driving her car.

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Like many, I often reach my destination and remember very little about the journey that got me there, which can never be a good thing as it smacks of complacency.

It is always helpful to remind yourself when you can that, in the wrong hands, a car is potentially the most dangerous weapon any of us will ever use but because we do it every day, it has become second nature.

In theory, the more you do something, the better you should become at it, yet some of the least competent drivers I know have been at it almost as long as Elton John has been tickling the ivories.

It is very rare for anybody who doesn’t routinely wear a hi-viz jacket, to get overly excited about the Highway Code, yet this is a set of rules designed to keep every one of us safe.

Although I am confident that I have a decent working knowledge of the code, I wouldn’t put a tenner on me passing my theory test with flying colours tomorrow. Would you?

Which is why the fuss made about the latest updates to the Highway Code could ultimately prove to be useful because at least people are talking about the rules of the road. Of the 50 changes and tweaks to the code, the most newsworthy is the one which states that cyclists should ride in the middle of the lane on quiet roads, in slower moving traffic and at junctions.

It is guidance which has prompted an army of keyboard warriors to mobilise in numbers usually only seen for stories about straight bananas or being made to wear a mask in Wetherspoons.

These people, I imagine, most of whom proudly display the 2009 AA roadmap and box of mansize on the rear parcel shelf, have lost what’s left of their minds because they are way down the new hierarchy of road users, which has been devised to protect the most vulnerable.

It has been interpreted as an assault on the rights of motorists but I imagine those making that accusation haven’t actually read the new rules, because there is something in there for every road user to read.

I don’t own a bike and haven’t cycled regularly since I used to stuff evening newspapers through letterboxes but I do appreciate why those on two wheels need more protection than I do in my airbag protected car.

This week, I have already been stuck behind cyclists exercising their right to ride in the middle of their lane but have yet to be undertaken by one in slow moving traffic. I’m sure it will happen soon and when it does I will be happy because I have read the new rules.

They make sense but will only work if more road users brush up on the new guidance and start paying even more attention.