Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

thirdcrank
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby thirdcrank » 30 Jun 2018, 7:28pm

I've no doubt that it's technically possible to produce a camera which would prove the distance between a cyclist and an overtaking vehicle. We're now shifting ground from the suggestion that people such as traffic wardens should be enforcing this. I've little doubt that if the availability of the equipment were not to be in doubt AND if the enforcement of this specific offence were to be specified as a government priority eg Home Office inspections closely monitored enforcement levels the situation might be transformed almost overnight. The reality is that specialist traffic policing is in almost terminal decline. Bearing in mind that we have now reached the situation where a driver can shunt a cyclist in a crash which kills them and the investigating police force can decide that it doesn't merit the submission of a file to the CPS, I for one would prefer any extra effort to be concentrated on raising standards across the board. And it is standards we are talkking about, because that is how "bad driving" offences are defined.

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gaz
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby gaz » 30 Jun 2018, 7:47pm

Steady rider wrote:Watching the tennis they can position the ball to within a millimetre or two of the lines.

Hawk-Eye uses 10 fixed cameras to monitor the distance of one moving object relative to a static line within a precisely defined space. Extrapolating that to suggest it is simple for a single camera in a moving police vehicle to accurately monitor and record the distance between two moving objects in the road environment is fanciful.

Steady rider wrote:One issue to bear in mind is the fatality rate for the UK - 21 per billion km v 8 the Netherlands and 11 Germany.

CperKM.png
Safety in numbers.

https://ecf.com/files/wp-content/upload ... harter.pdf

UK and France both shown at 75km cycled per person per annum. UK has a casualty rate of 29 fatalities per billion km cycled, France 61 fatalities. I'm not sure what that says about close passing laws in France but it doesn't paint a picture to me of France as a cycling utopia.

Figures for the Netherlands and Denmark probably reflect their segragated infrastructure.

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby mjr » 30 Jun 2018, 10:37pm

We need to know how many of those are killed in collision with motorists to understand it better. France may have a non trivial number of single-vehicle cycling deaths in the mountains, which the UK doesn't.
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bez » 1 Jul 2018, 8:49am

Some of the arguments being made here (and every time this idea rears its head again) are laughable.

The fact that the Netherlands has a lower rate of fatalities is an argument in favour of a distance passing law? Sure! Let's overlook other things, like… say, the fact that it's got more separated cycling infrastructure than any other country. That's probably insignificant, right? As is the fact that, due to that infrastructure, the majority of people cycle themselves and the majority of the remainder will have a family member or close friend who cycles, which may just make them a little more empathetic than the average Brit. Let's overlook those and all the other factors we could think of.

This collides curiously with another comment above, given my experience of cycling in France over the last 25 years (which is mostly rural, as I suspect is the experience of anyone talking about touring: you rarely hear from Brits who've spent a couple of years commuting by bike through Marseille, for instance). I share the experience that British drivers seem to have greater propensity to pass closer, but actually there's one nation's registration plates which I've come to fear in France more than any other's: the Netherlands. But wait, they have a distance passing law! And a low fatality rate! How can this be? Because it's my *personal experience*, that's how.

If you've got a full hour, this programme is well worth a watch. If you only have a couple of minutes, watch from the point I've set the video to start.
https://twitter.com/beztweets/status/801124703834349568

When you look at data you'll find that France is not so different to the UK.

Anyway, back to the "Brits vs French" thing. Let's assume that personal experience is actually representative of reality (which is possible, just unlikely) and consider explanations. The existence or otherwise of a distance passing law is hardly the only factor, let alone the most plausible. We have empathy issues such as above. We have the fact that each set of drivers is conditioned to passing in very different environments: French rural roads tend to have a bit more visibility (more Roman roads, fewer hedgerows and stone walls) and more importantly they mostly experience much lower traffic density: France having twice the area per person, there is on average much more likelihood of being able to pass wide without the sense of urgency of having to fit into a gap in oncoming traffic—or even feeling the urge to pass *alongside* oncoming traffic. So French drivers should, on average, be more conditioned to a lack of inhibitors for safe, wide passing; Brits will be more conditioned to more highly contested road space.

Honestly, the whole pro-distance passing law argument is just a tour de force of confirmation bias and perception bias, glued together with the twin beliefs that a) something with a number it in it is inherently capable of changing behaviour and that b) enforceability is easy because you've seen the tennis.

The tragic thing is that we have existing legislation that is 100% effective in terms of prosecution when a force decides to enforce it. When they do enforce it, it ends up all over the media, providing the public message you crave. And when they do enforce it, there is reportedly a 50% reduction in close passes and a 20% reduction in casualties (I've not seen the data for each so quite how reliable these are, and how confidently they can be attributed to close passing enforcement, remains a little unknown).

Quite how you think you will improve upon this I really don't know.

The point remains that this is all about will to prosecute. Without that, a distance passing law is impotent, as Australia shows. And with it, a distance law is pointless, as the West Midlands shows. Wasting time on something that is either impotent or pointless is absurd. The differentiating factor remains the will of any given force to prosecute. Spend time talking to reluctant forces instead.

Actually, please don't, you'll fill their heads with false correlations, opinions amounting to "common sense", and nonsense about calibrated camera systems. Let them listen to WMP et al instead—a process which is thankfully already happening.

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby al_yrpal » 1 Jul 2018, 9:47am

What is laughable is the incredible amount of waffle that seeks to obfuscate the desirability of a law specifying that keeping a sensible distance between vehicles, one of which is steel and plastic, and the other composed of flesh and blood.

Al

… and then theres this, get a dashcam!

rps20180701_095206_840.jpg
Last edited by al_yrpal on 1 Jul 2018, 9:55am, edited 1 time in total.
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thirdcrank
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby thirdcrank » 1 Jul 2018, 9:50am

Bez wrote:.... Let them listen to WMP et al instead—a process which is thankfully already happening.


Just to be completely clear, I presume you mean by "already happening" that WMP are doing something, rather than that anybody is listening much. If we look back at the media article that prompted this, it indicates to me that the WMP project has not been widely adopted. If we look for reasons, there's nobody to adopt it, nor any official interest in doing so. A number of factors have transformed the police service from a patrolling - visible policing - organisation into one prioritising detection. Traffic policing - which is an excellent example of patrol-based policing - has collapsed. I've explained the process by which this happened more than once. (Litotes there.)

Discussion of France reminds me of Astérix le Gaulois and there's a parallel here. The Astérix books begin with a reference to the whole of Gaul being under Roman rule except for one small village which continues to hold out. Think of PC's Mark Hodson and Steve Hudson as modern equivalents of Astérix and Obélix (in role rather than appearance, I hasten to add) and you may not be far wrong. (Obviously, the WMP area isn't a small village, but what's left of the Road Traffic Division is - metaphorically.)

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Cyril Haearn » 1 Jul 2018, 9:51am

Just passing a law would not change much, just think of maximum speed limits and STOP signs
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bez » 1 Jul 2018, 9:55am

What is laughable is the incredible amount of waffle that seeks to obfuscate the desirability of a law specifying that keeping a sensible distance between vehicles, one of which is steel and plastic, and the other composed of flesh and blood.


Yeah, there's that "it's got a number in it so it's better" thing again.

"Waffle" is indeed the point. You're trying to get political time and energy spent on something which shows no evidence of worthiness, in the face of an alternative which does. You've basically thought, "some people pass me closer than is comfortable, and I'd like that not to happen", which is something we can all agree with, and then you've jumped from that to "if they're told to keep 1m or 1.5m away, then this will if not solve the problem then at least come closer to doing so than other approaches." And there's the problem: you only have to compare the experiences of a few countries, and indeed a few policing regions within our own, to discover that this is leap of faith is wholly misguided and diverts attention away from the real factors of change. It is waffle, and harmfully counterproductive waffle at that.
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bez » 1 Jul 2018, 10:01am

thirdcrank wrote:Just to be completely clear, I presume you mean by "already happening" that WMP are doing something, rather than that anybody is listening much.


No, I mean the latter. WMP have presented to several other forces, several of whom have trialled Operation Close Pass or have overhauled their reporting and video processing capabilities. Eg Operation Snap. Even Hampshire, who have doggedly refused to look at video evidence for some time, have a video submission portal in the beta stage.

I've dropped out of the loop on exactly who's doing what, but there certainly seemed to be plenty of listening going on not long ago. Naturally it takes time for processes to change and yet more for effects to be observed in the real world, but there is some momentum at least.

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bez » 1 Jul 2018, 10:05am

and then theres this, get a dashcam!


What's that got to do with a distance passing law?

WMP claim a 100% success rate from video submissions using existing legislation. A distance passing law can only reduce that figure.

But thanks for editing your post to include an example of my later point that forces are listening and improving their processes :)

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Cyril Haearn » 1 Jul 2018, 10:15am

It would be good if the name of the paper and date of publication were quoted
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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bez » 1 Jul 2018, 10:23am

Here's a hypothetical example of how numbers don't always work well in law.

Suppose you see someone cycling erratically, and you believe them to be heavily intoxicated. You see a nearby policeman on a bicycle and notify them. The policeman pursues the person, observes that they are not adequately able to control their vehicle, also notices that they smell of alcohol, and speaks to the person who admits to drinking. The policeman prosecutes the person.

Now suppose you see someone driving erratically, and you believe them to be heavily intoxicated. You see a nearby policeman in a car and notify them. The policeman pursues the person, observes that they are not adequately able to control their vehicle, also notices that they smell of alcohol, and speaks to the person who admits to drinking. The policeman has no calibrated breathalysing equipment about his person and is unable to prosecute the person, because unlike the legislation for cycling while drunk, the legislation for driving while drunk requires that a measurement is made and that this measurement can be proven beyond reasonable doubt to be above a certain threshold.

The thing about alcohol levels is that they decline slowly. So in the vast majority of cases you can test people after an event (even some time after: the driver above could be taken to a station with a breathalyser and blood testing apparatus) and still measure a number which shows culpability.

You can't do that with passing laws, because that distance is transient. Once the pass is made, there is nothing to measure.

I'm not sure if you've ever read any court transcripts or similar, but the matter of deriving measurements of distance or speed from video evidence is not trivial, and the range of error on the calculations is significant. What's more, a jury has to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, and the business of expressing those non-trivial calculations to jurors so as to achieve that aim is also a challenge.

This means that, just as a drunk driver whose alcohol level cannot be reliably measured cannot be prosecuted for drink driving, so too a close-passing driver whose passing distance cannot be reliably measured cannot be prosecuted for a distance passing offence.

And, as noted, whilst alcohol levels change slowly, making the former case a minority, passing distances evaporate immediately, making the latter case a majority.

However, a test of "would a driving examiner fail you for that pass on that video?" (a test which is always based on visual evidence and never on measurement) is, like the rest of drunk cycling in the absence of an ability to measure with high accuracy, a more successful tool. So successful that it's reportedly 100% successful.

Hopefully you can see that a) you can't improve on 100%, and b) you're arguing for something which risks lowering that figure dramatically.

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby thirdcrank » 1 Jul 2018, 11:11am

Bez wrote:
No, I mean the latter. WMP have presented to several other forces, several of whom have trialled Operation Close Pass or have overhauled their reporting and video processing capabilities. Eg Operation Snap. Even Hampshire, who have doggedly refused to look at video evidence for some time, have a video submission portal in the beta stage.

I've dropped out of the loop on exactly who's doing what, but there certainly seemed to be plenty of listening going on not long ago. Naturally it takes time for processes to change and yet more for effects to be observed in the real world, but there is some momentum at least.


Look back to the media-release based article in the OP and it names WMP - who launched the scheme - and Cambridgeshire. Bearing in mind that this type of spin usually scrapes every barrel, that doesn't suggest to me widespread adoption, especially of the scheme as it is said to operate in WMP. I may have posted before that we had a local bit of policing by media release when "our" mat was ceremonially handed over and there was an accompanying clip of some traffic police out near Lawnswood. We've had a couple of posts with pics of the mats displayed as part of road safety stands in other parts of the country but I've seen no feedback about any other force besides WMP taking this seriously. I really do hope I'm wrong.

You have made reference to measuring, and it's exactly the same with police performance. I've been retired over twenty years now but I vividly remember urging my superintendent that we should be doing more traffic policing in our division and he remarked "What isn't counted doesn't get done and they don't count traffic." That that downward trend has only continued.

FWIW, your explanation of breathalyser procedure is wrong. If a police officer finds somebody driving who is heavily intoxicated they can arrest them for the offence under s4 RTA 1988 Driving, or being in charge, when under influence of drink or drugs.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/52/section/4

They can then be offered breath tests at a police station which can be used in evidence either way. Arrests conditional on a preliminary - usually roadside breath test are dealt with under s6 of the same act.

The dashcam article seems to be a plug for Nextbase dashcams. I'd certainly recommend one as a way of having evidence of what happened in a crash, at a time when it's a jungle out there in the absence of effective traffic policing. Beyond that they might corroborate other evidence as part of a prosecution. WMP report having a successful system for using this evidence and I really hope the claim is correct and that it's use spreads more widely.

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bonefishblues » 1 Jul 2018, 11:22am

But to try to look on the bright side, here's a real issue of concern that seems at least to be starting to get airtime nationally.

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Re: Close-pass prevention - Well I never!!!

Postby Bez » 1 Jul 2018, 11:58am

FWIW, your explanation of breathalyser procedure is wrong.


Fair enough (I was thinking of S5 of course), but I suspect (happy to be proven wrong) that S4 prosecutions are rare as hen's teeth given the existence of S5, Plus of course other offences like S3A refer to the numerical limit.

Point still stands, though: from a prosecution point of view, relying on a measurement a) is not inherently better, b) can often be worse, and c) given a starting point of 100% cannot possibly be better in this case.