Drivers warned of major Highway Code changes regarding electric cars

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Electric car owners have been warned of major Highway Code changes that came into effect earlier this year. The new rules mostly deal with charging vehicles and encourage drivers to put up warning signs to avoid possible legal action.  

EV drivers should now adhere to rule 239 of the Highway Code that deals with electric car charging. 

The rule states: “When using an electric vehicle charge point, you should park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for pedestrians from trailing cables.

“Display a warning sign if you can. After using the charge point, you should return charging cables and connectors neatly to minimise the danger to pedestrians and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users.”

With the rule causing a lot of confusion, Lydia Clements, legal adviser at DAS Law, has given drivers advice on how to stay on the right side of the law.

Speaking about how the regulations are being enforced, Ms Clements said: “This is difficult to say at present as the changes are still new but it may well depend on the circumstances.

“Road users will still need to comply with the various criminal law enactments to avoid any criminal sanctions.

“Further, drivers will also owe a civil legal duty of care to all other road users. This means they need to take reasonable care to ensure their actions, or any steps they fail to take, do not cause injury to another road user, or damage to property.”

A lot of EV owners are also concerned about someone else stealing their warning signs. 

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Speaking about the issue, Ms Clements stressed: “If someone removes or steals the sign that has been displayed this could be treated as theft.

“That person would be guilty of theft if they ‘dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it’.

“The expectation would therefore be that other road users respect the signs that are in place and do not act to increase the danger of those around them by removing these signs.”

There have also been questions about who is actually responsible for any injuries caused by tripping over a charging cable. 

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Ms Clements said: “The starting point is that a cable should not be run a long way across the pavement.

“Owners are encouraged to park close to the charging point to try and prevent tripping hazards to the public.

“After charging, the cables should be returned in the appropriate place. If these reasonable steps are not taken and an accident occurs, then the user may be held liable.”

If drivers aren’t comfortable with leaving their car kerbside to charge their vehicle, some petrol stations will offer electric charging on their forecourts.

Motorists are also able to charge their electric cars at home, supermarkets and some workplaces.

There have been other changes to rule 239, including a recommended way of opening a car door from the inside.

The “Dutch Reach” method will mean drivers will be asked to open their car door with the hand further away.

For example, drivers would reach across their chest and open the door with their left hand.

The reason why this method has been recommended is because it forces the driver to swivel their body and check their surrounding.

It will help people see if pedestrians, cyclists or other vehicles are coming their way and avoid the door colliding with them.

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