Lesson 6: Road use and the law

How much do students know about the road laws? An introduction to the Highway Code.

Learning objectives

For students to:

  • understand some of the laws which apply to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers
  • think about why these laws are in place
  • understand the benefit of being a safer road user.


Links to Citizenship - 1.2, 2.2, 4a


60 minutes

This lesson focuses on the laws that apply to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

The rules of the road - 10 minutes

  • Cyclists and drivers are required by law not to ride or drive in a careless or inconsiderate manner. Ask students what it means to be careful and considerate? As a pedestrian and a passenger as well as a cyclist and a driver?
  • Ask students why do we need rules?
  • Ask students to walk around the desks in the classroom silently but with their eyes open, not making eye contact with anyone else. Try it again but students use eye contact and gestures to indicate which way they are going and who can go first. It is much easier when people know what is expected of them, communicate and behave considerately to other people. The same applies on the roads. When pedestrians, cyclists and drivers communicate and follow accepted rules, everyone is safer and more efficient.

Road users and the law

  • Question the class about the Highway Code. They could soon be learning to drive and it is an important document if they want to be successful. Do they know what it is?
  • Explain that the Highway Code obtained from the link above applies to England, Scotland and Wales. It applies to pedestrians as much as to drivers and riders. Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements. Breaking the law could result in a fine, licence endorsement, disqualification or imprisonment. Such rules are identified by the use of the words 'MUST/MUST NOT'. Advisory rules use wording such as 'should/should not' or 'do/do not'. The Highway Code may be used in evidence in court to establish liability: this includes rules which use advisory wording.
  • To gain an understanding of some of the Highway Code, ask students to complete the Do you know the law? question sheet (PDF 280KB) - new window. This can be done in the style of a 'pop quiz', one question at a time with the whole class, or with students working in groups to a set time limit. Access to a Highway Code is required (online or booklet).
  • Making reference to the Highway Code rule number allows for answer papers to be swapped between groups or individuals and marked in the class.
  • When completed, go through the answers and discuss students' attitudes to the rules. Were they aware of them? What do they think of them? Do they follow them?
  • Final reminder is to say that newly qualified drivers and motorcycle riders have specific restrictions on them in their first two years after passing qualification. Six points on their licence (which could be just one offence) will result in having their licence revoked and the need to have to retake their driving test. Apart from the inconvenience, there will be great expense in getting insurance, even more than with a clean licence.

Extension activity

  • Students could do some research then debate an issue related to the law. For example:

The legal driving age should be raised to 18

  • For: Killed or seriously injured (KSI) statistics show high rates for younger drivers as they may be considered to be:
    • less likely to identify the level of risks involved
    • too reckless and willing to take excessive risks
    • not emotionally mature and so more likely to drive recklessly to impress friends
    • less aware of the consequences of their action.

Raising the age could promote environmentally friendly alternatives to the car. Some other countries require people to be 18 before they can take their driving test (e.g. in France).

  • Against: High KSI rates are about experience, not age. The test should be made more rigorous for all drivers. Increasing the age may limit young people's work options and they may be moving to higher education and so require transport. Restrictions should be about ability rather than just age and maybe older drivers should face regular re-tests.

Other potential topics for debate:

  • Car drivers and motorcycle riders should be made to take a test every 10 years.
  • Pedestrians should be banned from listening to mp3 players or using mobile phones while crossing the road.
  • Road safety education should be a compulsory part of the curriculum.
  • Cyclists should be allowed to ride on the pavement.
  • Cyclists should be made to take a test.