Helmet "evidence."

This sub-forum all discussions about this "lively" subject. All topics that are substantially about helmets will be moved here, if not placed here correctly in the first place.
Steady rider
Posts: 2189
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 4:31pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 27 Mar 2015, 8:20am

8. As part of its next revision of the Highway Code, the Government should consider
amending the code to promote cycle safety and to ensure that it reflects the rights of
cyclists to share the road with drivers.(Paragraph 22)


http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 86/286.pdf

5) Proposed by Colin Clarke, seconded by Ron Healey.
That CTC seeks amendments to the Highway Code when it is next revised, to increase cyclists’ protection in both civil and criminal law, including: greater priority at junctions; stronger requirements on the need for drivers to leave space when overtaking cyclists; and changes to advice which may be used by drivers and their insurers (or others) to argue that cyclists are liable for their own injuries, eg by not wearing helmets or high visibility clothing.


http://www.ctc.org.uk/file/public/20130 ... inutes.pdf

Certainly there is a need to revise the Highway Code and the excuse so far has been the cost of a revision. The process via the coroners court is also weak and needs revising. Members of both houses of parliament need to apply sufficient pressure for these changes. Cyclists could contact their own MP and a member of the Lords to press for improvements.

reohn2
Posts: 37928
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby reohn2 » 27 Mar 2015, 8:44am

Following on from TC's post,I find it ridiculous that someone driving a vehicle upward of 1 tonne and as much as 32tonnes, can be a absolved from blame after colliding with a cyclists because the cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet(or HiViz clothing FTM),a helmet that has been proven to have minimal protection from any impact above 12mph.
The law is skewed in favour of motor vehicles in the UK to a high degree as to be laughable if it weren't so tragic.
Not only does the HC need changing but the whole structure of law and the way it's handled and administered IMHO.
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

merseymouth
Posts: 1546
Joined: 23 Jan 2011, 11:16am

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby merseymouth » 27 Mar 2015, 11:14am

Hello there, It troubles me greatly when people throw out the statement - "The Highway Code states that cyclst's should wear a helmet, so one should"! Why?
Far more knowledgeable folk than I would point out the fact that the "Highway Code" is in the main an advisory document, choosing to show what they think is best practise. It carries no lawful weight unless the area also specifies the correct Lawful Statute which applies to signify that it would be an offence should the person not comply. Examples such as "Helmet Use" on a motorcycle, "Correct Lighting" where regulated, "Speed Limits", "Drink driving", et al. If it doesn't stipulate the appropriate Statute it isn't mandatory! Merely a "Serving Suggestion" as is often stated with that indigestible rubbish such as the "Vesta Curry"!
As a notable Military worthy said years ago - "I have to obey orders, I don't have to take advice"!, too true. TTFN MM

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 17924
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Vorpal » 27 Mar 2015, 11:23am

Then drivers don't have to give us plenty of space when overtaking, either?

Or perhaps we can pick and choose which bits of the HC are applicable to us individually? Can motorists do that, too?
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Bicycler
Posts: 3400
Joined: 4 Dec 2013, 3:33pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Bicycler » 27 Mar 2015, 1:07pm

Indeed and the HC does carry considerable legal weight which other advice does not. This is what the Road Traffic Act 1988 has to say about the sections of the Highway Code we inaccurately refer to as 'only advisory':
A failure on the part of a person to observe a provision of the Highway Code shall not of itself render that person liable to criminal proceedings of any kind but any such failure may in any proceedings (whether civil or criminal, and including proceedings for an offence under the Traffic Acts, the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 or sections 18 to 23 of the Transport Act 1985) be relied upon by any party to the proceedings as tending to establish or negative any liability which is in question in those proceedings

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/section/38

merseymouth
Posts: 1546
Joined: 23 Jan 2011, 11:16am

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby merseymouth » 27 Mar 2015, 1:13pm

Hi Vorpal, Now that is taking pedantry a bit too far! In countries that stipulate a minimum clearance the intention to fix such a distance was to ensure that if a controller of a vehicle in an attempt to overtake another road user actually hit the other party then the case was proven! Giving a bit of "Wobble Leeway" made lawful sense, but having struck the other party they where "Banged to rights".
Sadly although all who receive powered vehicle training get it drummed into them that they have a duty of care during overtakes, it is often the first thing they choose to ignore once they pass the obligatory test!
"Might is Right" should not prevail! With so little active policing actually taking place on our roads, it falls to us all to strive for best practise, not just go about with fingers crossed being our safety planning method?
When glib tongues can get the negligent a "Free Ride" we all suffer! TTFN MM

thirdcrank
Posts: 28687
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby thirdcrank » 27 Mar 2015, 7:29pm

Steady rider

Perhaps the CTC should launch a petition. L :lol: L

Sorry for that bit of canteen humour and thanks for linking me to those bits from the CTC. I'm glad they've eventually recognised what I was saying last time round, but I fear it's now too late. I hope not.

User avatar
Cunobelin
Posts: 10188
Joined: 6 Feb 2007, 7:22pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Cunobelin » 27 Mar 2015, 7:45pm

It is very simple......

Theoretically a helmet can save you in a simple fall at low speed

Cyclists have a responsibility to wear a helmet and protect themselves

Yet... pedestrians, vehicle occupants who have more head injuries do not have the same reponsibility

That needs explaining

reohn2
Posts: 37928
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby reohn2 » 27 Mar 2015, 8:12pm

Vorpal wrote:Then drivers don't have to give us plenty of space when overtaking, either?

Or perhaps we can pick and choose which bits of the HC are applicable to us individually? Can motorists do that, too?


This is where the HC and courts are lopsided,the greater duty of care should rest with the one capable of causing the greater harm,though very often doesn't when the only survivor of motor vehicle/vulnerable road user collisions is the safest one involved,so the victor writes the history and is absolved of any blame!!!!
Cycle helmets are not designed for anything other than very low impacts(which is also debatable).So to claim because a cyclist is not wearing a helmet a motorist can drive even closer to them in the full knowledge that they'll be absolved from blame,which is effectively the logical conclusion to draw,is disgraceful and I suspect be a slick lawyers argument against a helmetless cyclist.
Such a ploy was tried a couple of years ago IIRC when a young woman walking home from her horse riding lesson was stuck by a speeding motorist and suffered brain injury as a result.The defence lawyer claimed that had she been wearing the riding helmet she was carrying she wouldn't have suffered the same brain injury.
Thankfully the argument was rejected by the court,but not so for cyclists it seems if recent cases are anything to go by!
All to often ''might is right'' is prevalent on UK roads and sanctioned by court judgements.
Frankly UK law stinks to high heaven with regard to cycling and cyclists,the victim blaming continues ad nauseum :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
Last edited by reohn2 on 28 Mar 2015, 9:09am, edited 1 time in total.
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

Steady rider
Posts: 2189
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 4:31pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 27 Mar 2015, 8:53pm

Yes Thirdcrank the CTC are considering the options I expect. In the last 15 years or more the Highway Code has been revised once.

I will send a request to a member of the Lords to raise the topic.

If we wanted to draw attention to cycling and £1 million is being provided to boost cycling. I suppose CTC members in Leeds may be able to rent a stall in the market and display information, promote rides without a helmet requirement, and sell CTC membership or something similar. Just an idea but it would show we (cyclist) are taking action. I could put a bit of time info answering questions about helmets or other issues.

User avatar
gaz
Posts: 13905
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Kent, car park of England

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby gaz » 27 Mar 2015, 9:03pm

thirdcrank wrote:Somebody queried on the current thread about the proposed private prosecution following the death of Michael Mason, how not wearing a helmet might be relevant in a criminal trial for crashing into a cyclist from behind. I'm putting this here to avoid turning that thread into a helmet thread.

The way it might be done is like this, once it's been established that a rider was not wearing a helmet.

At the conclusion of the defence case, the prosecution and defence have the opportunity to address the jury and in that order. It's then easy then for the defence to include something like this:

Members of the jury, you have heard that the deceased was not wearing a safety helmet for his own protection. Many, if not all of you, will be experienced drivers and therefore familiar with the Highway Code, which advises that pedal cyclists should wear a safety helmet, for their own protection. Some people suggest that safety helmets do not improve safety and, if I may use the expression, the jury is still out on that (conspiratorial gestures if the jury goes along with the humour) but you, members of the jury, will soon have to reach your own verdict on this very real case and you may think that a pedal cyclist who is so careless of their own safety as to ignore this sensible safety advice in the Highway Code may well be equally careless about ignoring its other road safety advice. You may indeed agree that it's unfair that my client should be facing a lengthy term of imprisonment ..... etc.


A professional would do that a lot better than I can and they'd be dressed up for the part. The last to address the jury is the judge when summing up and they'd have to include that observation.


Sorry to take us all the way back to the start.

I can't recall the length of time for which the HC has advised cyclists to wear helmets (it is not in my 1983 revision edition) but I presume TC's suggested use of such a summation by the defence has had ample opportunity to appear in real life. If it had, I would hope that in the internet age we would already be aware of it. If it has not, then I feel it fair to assume that the professionals don't consider such an approach to be effective.
2020 : To redundancy ... and beyond!

thirdcrank
Posts: 28687
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby thirdcrank » 27 Mar 2015, 9:14pm

gaz

That's a very fair point and one that occurred to me, although I don't share your confidence that it would necessarily be reported. As I explained in the bit you quoted, it's just a way it might be done. As I've posted more than once before, through changes in the legislation I became eligible to sit on a jury and it really opened my eyes when I saw the methods used by the defence counsel to avoid the evidence. Because of the nature of modern courtrooms, we were close to the lawyers and the defence barrister was right in front of me. When he began his closing speech, he picked up a huge legal tome and raised it over his head. In his fancy dress, it was a similar effect to a raptor cloaking its prey. Although he didn't throw the book at me, so to speak, at one point it looked as though he was going to crown me with it. It's called advocacy.

I hope you are right.

Steady rider
Posts: 2189
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 4:31pm

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Steady rider » 27 Mar 2015, 9:39pm

Just to add 1993 was the year when the helmet advice was added. At that time only Australia had introduced a law for all ages and in 1993 Queensland started to enforce the law. Other states started enforcement in 1990, 1991 and 1992 as far as I know. The DfT put the advice in the code based on some research but also some research did not support adding such advice. The claims made for helmets providing protection, from the Australian findings, were later reduced or indicated a reduction in safety.

It was 2002 before the DfT published a review of the evidence and then it omitted important findings. A court needs to cross examine the DfT on these issues if the Highway Codes advice is being taken into account.

User avatar
bovlomov
Posts: 4202
Joined: 5 Apr 2007, 7:45am
Contact:

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby bovlomov » 27 Mar 2015, 10:08pm

Steady rider wrote:A court needs to cross examine the DfT on these issues if the Highway Codes advice is being taken into account.

FOI request? Not sure how it would be worded though.

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 17924
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: Helmet "evidence."

Postby Vorpal » 28 Mar 2015, 7:31am

There have been a few civil cases where breaches of the Highway Code were used as evidence of negligence. In general, the courts have found that breaches of the Highway Code are relevant but do not in themsleves constitute negligence.

I suppose that most such things are settled before they get to a court by insurance companies that wish to avoid the costs associated with court.

Here are some examples...

Wakeling v. (1)McDonagh; (2) Motor Insurers Bureau
http://www.pibriefupdate.com/content/co ... antive-law

Goad v Butcher
http://www.simpmar.com/news-knowledge/s ... -fine-line

Powell v. Phillips
http://swarb.co.uk/powell-v-phillips-ca-1972/

And this case which has been previously discussed on the forum http://www.kennedyslaw.com/casereview/c ... encecycle/ in which there was an implication that a cyclist could be negligent for not wearing a helmet, but that they failed to show that a helmet would have made a difference to the cause of the accident or the extent of the injuries.

Based upon precedent, then, a breach of the Highway Code such as not wearing a helmet, would of itself not be considered negligence, and anyone claiming it so would also have to show that it contributed to the accident, and by how much.

There is also http://www.e-lawresources.co.uk/Froom-v-Butcher.php regarding the negligence of not wearing a seat belt.

Of course these are civil cases, rather than criminal, but the standards, are (or should be) rather stricter for criminal cases than for civil, and good legal representative should be able to point this out.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom