Following on from the United Kingdom’s update to the Highway Code, earlier this year the Government has updated and revised Gibraltar’s Highway Code to ensure compatibility with our own laws and advice on road safety.

The aim of the Highway Code is to promote road safety, which also supports current thinking to promote a healthy, sustainable, and efficient transport system, be it on foot, bicycle, using public transport or by private car. The code applies to Gibraltar, but also focuses on traffic signs, road situations and advice that may not exist locally but that will be applicable when driving outside Gibraltar.

The biggest change will see the introduction of a 'hierarchy of road users', meaning that those road users who can do the greatest damage would bear the greatest share of responsibility in ensuring safety on the road. The grading of users has been established to provide protection of injury in the event of a collision to the most vulnerable of road users, starting with pedestrians, moving onto cyclists, then other categories of motor vehicles, with bus and finally heavy goods vehicles at the end of the scale showing as the least vulnerable, but the most responsible.

Further changes will include clarifying the existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements. Currently pedestrians only have priority over other road users if they have already begun to cross a junction. The proposals would give pedestrians priority over other road users at junctions where pedestrians are waiting to cross, in addition to the existing rule that pedestrians have priority when they are already crossing, even if these locations may not be at the traditional crossing areas. This shows a change in road use ideology and a lean towards a far more human and people based approach.

Furthermore, the revised Highway Code will now issue guidance on safe speed and passing distances when overtaking more vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

Many of the rules in the code are legal requirements and you may be fined if you are found to be in breach of them. Failure to comply with any of the other rules will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, but the Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Act and Regulations to establish liability. In part the Highway Code may also serve to advise on best and safe practices for all road users. It is therefore advisable for all road users to re-acquaint themselves with the code and the changes therein.

The new updated version of the Gibraltar Highway Code will be available online and printed copies will be readily available for collection at a fee of £10 from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Department. Henceforth, during driving tests, candidates should be familiar with this new comprehensive document.

The Minister for Transport, the Hon Paul Balban, said: “The revision of the Highway Code will make our roads safer for the most vulnerable road users, in particular, those walking and cycling. These changes will bring the rules of the road into the twenty-first century, and will bring with it, new concepts whilst encouraging people to respect and consider the needs of other road users to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them, whilst protecting the most vulnerable. The Ministry has been working closely with the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Examiner on this project."