§ Lord Melchett
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the term "public highway" in Section 14 of the Road Traffic Act 1972 includes public footpaths and bridleways.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)
The term "public highway" is not defined in the Road Traffic Act 1972, and there is some uncertainty about its precise meaning. The public have limited rights of way on bridleways and footpaths, as defined in section 196(1) of the Act, which do not include rights of way with vehicles of any description. Subject to these qualifications, our understanding is that bridleways and footpaths are highways but, because motor vehicles may not lawfully pass over them, they are not necessarily "Public highways" under section 14 of the Act.