What duty does a car driver owe to a pedestrian? 

The law places a much heavier obligation on drivers than it does on pedestrians when using the roads. A car driver owes a duty of care to take such care for the safety of others likely to be affected by their driving as would the reasonably prudent driver. This was embodied in the case of Lunt v Khelifa [2002] EWCA Civ 801 which confirmed ‘this court has consistently imposed on drivers of cars a high burden to reflect the fact that the car is potentially a dangerous weapon.

Changes to the highway code

The Highway Code was changed in January 2022 to endorse this view. 

Firstly, the Highway Code establishes a hierarchy of road users which essentially ranks road users from most to least vulnerable. Therefore, the least vulnerable road users therefore have a greater responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they pose to more vulnerable road users. Pedestrians are understandably placed at the top of this hierarchy with car drivers significantly lower. This therefore confirms that car drivers owe a higher duty of car to pedestrians and reflects the fact that those in charge of vehicles can cause the greatest harm to other road users should a collision take place. 

A further change to the Highway Code in 2022 which reflects the higher duty on car drivers is that pedestrians now have priority at junctions. Previous versions of the Highway Code have been revised from car drivers only having to give way to pedestrians who were already crossing the road to having to ‘give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road you are turning into.’ 

The most common causes of accidents between a car driver and a pedestrian include; 

  • Driving too fast; 
  • Failure to look properly;
  • Drinking or driving under the influence of drugs and 
  • Being distracted whilst driving, such as using a mobile phone. 

The consequence of these changes to the Highway Code on the background of an already fairly established principle in law is that it should now be even easier for pedestrians to establish primary liability against a car driver as pedestrians are considered to be one of the most vulnerable road users. 

The consequence of this for drivers is that even greater care needs to be taken when using the roads. 

How Moore Barlow can help

Moore Barlow’s road traffic accident solicitors are not just experts in the legal intricacies of road traffic accident claims; we pride ourselves on our holistic approach to every case.

Moore Barlow stands for its legal expertise and unparalleled dedication to its clientele. Our firm isn’t just an assembly of legal minds; it’s a collective driven by a shared mission — representing those who’ve endured the most harrowing consequences of severe road traffic accidents.