Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
blaugrana
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Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby blaugrana » 2 Jun 2009, 10:26am

A colleague hit a cyclist this morning on the way to work. No-one was hurt, but the bike and car were damaged. As the school's only cyclist I was asked what I thought about the rights and the wrongs of what she'd done as a driver and I would like to ask the experts.

The situation, as she described it, was:

Driver waiting on side road, to turn on to one-way main road. She looks left, all clear, looks right, all clear, doesn't look left again (as it's a one-way road, there won't be anything coming from that direction) and pulls out. She then hits cyclist who, presumably, had come up inside her while she was looking right, and had pulled out.

My colleague doesn't know who is in the wrong - what do people think?

Jeff

stoobs
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby stoobs » 2 Jun 2009, 10:57am

Presumably the driver was turning left onto the one-way street?

And what part of the car did she hit the cyclist with?

As a general rule, I have told both of my kids to always look both ways when crossing one-way streets, as you never know what might be there. (Contra-flow cyle and bus lanes, confused drivers with out-of-date sat-navs, Italian Job-style bulldozers etc etc) I disagree with your assertion that nothing would be coming from that direction. A trite rule in life, but with a seed of usefulness is "never assume, as it makes an ass out of u and me"

As a driver, I believe that the Highway Code also tells you to use your mirrors, and to be aware of other users, particulalry vulnerable ones. It is also a great idea to look in the direction that you are going. Suppose a pedestrian had crossed the road? An old person, say. Perhaps your driver's mother? Your driver would have had a responsibility to give way to that pedestrian - a rule hardly followed by many these days, but nevertheless there. The cyclist might have just started off from the pavement? No excuse for not checking.

I've seen 3 accidents at roundabouts where the second car onto the roundabout from one entrance lane ran into the first car which had stopped. Reason? The second driver assumed that the first car had gone when it hadn't, and they were still looking right for vehicles already on the roundabout. Why assume, when you can actually find out merely by looking where you want to go? Saves hundreds in costs, hours of messing about, and reduces potential injury.


I suspect that you can see which way I'm leaning, based admittedly on precious little fact. Never normally stops me, though, and you may have additional info that changes circumstances.

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Mick F
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby Mick F » 2 Jun 2009, 11:14am

When a car driver pulls away from stationary, he should look over both shoulders.

I would say the car driver was in the wrong, because he didn't look properly, but the cyclist was Standing into Danger, by pulling up the inside of a car he knew would be pulling away.

Cyclists are vulnerable, maybe more than pedestrians, and they should ride with caution, even if they know the law and Highway Code is on their side. There's no point being in the right, when you're squidged under a car.

Never-the-less, the car driver was in the wrong.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Si
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby Si » 2 Jun 2009, 12:12pm

I'd say that they both contributed to the collision - as others have said, the driver should have checked in the necessary directions before moving off, but at the same time it's not the wisest of moves to cycle up the inside of a left turning vehicle - especially if left is the only way that the car could go because of the one-way system (whether this is the case here I do not know).

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Jun 2009, 2:28pm

There are different types of right and wrong.

At the moral level, there are plenty of here who think that a car driver colliding with a cyclist is inevitably the one to blame, no matter what the circumstances. While this is the issue which usually causes most global warming on here, it doesn't affect the way things pan out in real life.

If I've understood the narrative correctly, the driver has moved forward while looking in the direction they were expecting the traffic, rather than looking to see if the road in front was clear. The most common types of collision in those circumstances are (a) driver assumes the car in front has moved off but it is still there = shunt. (b) Driver does not expect a pedestrian walking across the mouth of the junction and collides with them. Both involve driving without due care and attention but I doubt if anybody has been prosecuted for many years in those circumstances. In this case, the cyclist has filtered down the nearside of the stationary car leading to a similar sort of collision. I fancy that would make any sort of police proceedings even less likely. (After the collision, the driver had a duty to stop, of course, and give their details to the cyclist.) Depending on the road layout, it might be argued that the cyclist was cycling without due care in filtering but it's hard to imagine that going anywhere. (The cyclist is under no obligation to stop and exchange details.)

At the civil level (compo) I simply don't know. The driver had an obvious duty to keep a good look-out and not to collide with the cyclist, but there seems to be contributory negligence by the cyclist in filtering down the nearside. Luckily, there was no personal injury so the most at stake here is the damage to car and bike.

Romeo Whisky
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby Romeo Whisky » 2 Jun 2009, 2:38pm

On the very limited information in the description I would say it is 50:50. However the cyclists version may well be different. The car driver has no idea where the cyclist came from. the cyclist will have a better idea of wehre they came from and where the car was relative to them! His evidence on that point is likely to be preferred, in the unlikely event that this ever got as far as court.

A good driver will not be surprised by a cyclist coming up their inside. They will have clcoked them in the rear view mirror long before a left hook becomes an issue.

JEJV
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby JEJV » 2 Jun 2009, 3:31pm

Romeo Whisky wrote:A good driver will not be surprised by a cyclist coming up their inside. They will have clcoked them in the rear view mirror long before a left hook becomes an issue.

I think a lifesaver is more useful that mirrors. No mention of checking behind in the original posting. Unless that's what looking left means.

But if someone is coming up the inside fast enough, they can be hidden by other vehicles behind the vehicle turning left, or just hard to spot quickly.

The main attention of the vehicle turning needs to be in front of it - where it is going. Otherwise it'll end up running into a pedestrian, or other vehicle in front, while checking for problems behind. There's a limit to how hard a driver should be checking behind.
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thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Jun 2009, 4:53pm

Romeo Whisky wrote:... the cyclists version may well be different. The car driver has no idea where the cyclist came from.


This highlights the points that a criminal court (dealing with due care etc) can only decide the case on evidence, not supposition. This is why nowadays, if there are no independent witnesses of a collision, there is unlikely to be a prosecution.

gilesjuk
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby gilesjuk » 2 Jun 2009, 5:09pm

There's no compulsory cycle training and therefore you can't assume that any cyclist will be careful and sensible. Therefore you should take extra care when driving.

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NUKe
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby NUKe » 2 Jun 2009, 5:11pm

From a self preservation stand point, the Cyclists shouldn't undertake without taking precautions and understanding what the drivers intentions are. Even if they are in a cycle lane. Yes I agree the motorists should look, but they may be distracted by a screaming baby, Terry Wogan or a whole host of other things.

We can spend our life trying to apportion blame to the other party, but like advance motoring one of the biggest things we can do for personal safety is to constantly monitor and evaluate our ride. Be aware of those around you expect the unexpected. I used to hate the stickers “Baby on board” . thinking that they would somehow make me more careful of there precious cargo. But then a friend of mine explained. They are there to warm you of possible stupid moves. And should read something like "I have a screaming eating machine on board I have had very little sleep for the last 24 hours so please forgive my little mistakes"
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sirmy
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby sirmy » 2 Jun 2009, 6:45pm

Have to say on this occasion I think that the cyclist was at fault. Why do people riding bikes assume that they can ride up the inside of a line of traffic, no one turning left is going to look in their near side door mirror before turning ecause nothing should be moving up the inside of a line of traffic.

I've said this before and I will say it again - if we want to regarded as road users on a par with everyone else then we have to behave like everyone else. If you come up to a line of traffic stopped at lights then assume a position behind the nearside lights of the vehicle in front. No one can pass you in that position and you will be able to pass through the lights without cars forcing you into the kerb. Unless of course drivers are just so much more polite in the north east

What would you all say if someone was to make a post saying that they saw a driver drive down the inside of a line of traffic - cyclists are no different

Simples

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mill4six
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby mill4six » 2 Jun 2009, 8:49pm

Nonsense, a bike is FOR filtering through traffic there's no greater joy than cutting a swathe through rush hour traffic and if you match your speed to the flow you can find all sorts of handy gaps to slot into. I never mind this sort of thing when I'm in the car, I'm expecting it. I once got parked on by a car I was undertaking at speed and never once thought to be cross with the driver, I put myself there after all. One mishap in 30 odd years is ok by me and I'm slightly more careful now. I don't like blaming people unless it's blatant negligence, accidents are accidents, nobody is perfect nobody does all their lifesavers all the time.

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richardyorkshire
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby richardyorkshire » 2 Jun 2009, 9:24pm

Driver waiting on side road, to turn on to one-way main road. She looks left, all clear, looks right, all clear, doesn't look left again (as it's a one-way road, there won't be anything coming from that direction) and pulls out. She then hits cyclist who, presumably, had come up inside her while she was looking right, and had pulled out.


If I read this correctly, the driver was turning left out onto a one-way street. The cyclist passed her to her left whilst she was stationary. She then moved off, turning left and collided with the cyclist. But she was looking to her right as she moved off to the left. She was looking away from the direction of her travel.

If that is a correct summary, then the fault lies with the driver. A driver should always look where they are going. She made a basic error. It is very important that you look where you are going.

Cyclists should be wary of undertaking vehicles - especially where the vehicle is turning left. Undertaking in this manner is something that I myself would never do. But the reason it is unwise is because the mistake described above is unfortunately quite common. So a wise cyclist takes that into account before deciding to pass a car.

However, when moving off, the onus is entirely upon the controller of the vehicle - whether it be a car or bicycle - to look around and check that it is safe to move off. That includes looking in the direction of travel. There is no excuse for doing otherwise. We are all taught this when learning to drive. Look where you are going - it's a simple rule.
Wisest is he who knows that he knows nothing.

drossall
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby drossall » 2 Jun 2009, 9:53pm

I'd agree with RichardYorkshire. If the driver pulled forward into the cyclist, it doesn't matter where the cyclist came from; the driver is at fault for not looking where she was going.

If the driver trapped the cyclist against the kerb with the side of her car, it's a bit different. The cyclist was at least unwise to pull alongside a turning car, although the driver probably ought not to swerve close to the kerb when turning, especially without looking (and if she stayed at a constant distance the cyclist shouldn't get trapped).

Filtering needs care, but sirmy is incorrect to say that it is wrong, since the Highway Code gives advice on how to do it, at least to motorcyclists (rule 88).

That might be 50:50, but more or less depending on how reckless the cyclist was.

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richardyorkshire
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Re: Traffic accident - rights & wrongs?

Postby richardyorkshire » 2 Jun 2009, 10:10pm

Hmm, I think I might have to correct my earlier post. Rule 163 says:

only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so


I guess that must apply to cyclists as well as motor vehicles. Though the section on overtaking rather reads as though the author only had motor vehicles in mind. I wish more car drivers would obey rule 166, but that's another story.
Wisest is he who knows that he knows nothing.