Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

psmiffy
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby psmiffy » 13 Nov 2009, 11:47am

I have no idea how a proposal of this sort would fit into UK law and I am violently opposed to any erosion of the “the innocent until proved guilty” principle.

However, I have recently cycled in most of the European countries where the “hierarchy of responsibility” rules apply (my wording) – It works!

It works to such an extent that coming from the UK it’s quite unnerving – often even when you are in the wrong or it’s not your right of way drivers will give way to you – Drivers (and cyclists) simply do not take risks when encountering a more vulnerable highway user.

Personally I think the probability of it being adopted in the UK is zero – but the more noise that is made then perhaps in the long run there may be a chance – because as far as I can see it only way that justice will be seen to done in the courts in many of the cases where cyclists/pedestrians have been injured by “careless” acts. Simply enabling the measure would go a long way to forcing a change in the mind set of road users when encountering more vulnerable people.

kwackers
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby kwackers » 13 Nov 2009, 1:05pm

psmiffy wrote:I have no idea how a proposal of this sort would fit into UK law and I am violently opposed to any erosion of the “the innocent until proved guilty” principle.

However, I have recently cycled in most of the European countries where the “hierarchy of responsibility” rules apply (my wording) – It works!

It works to such an extent that coming from the UK it’s quite unnerving – often even when you are in the wrong or it’s not your right of way drivers will give way to you – Drivers (and cyclists) simply do not take risks when encountering a more vulnerable highway user.

Personally I think the probability of it being adopted in the UK is zero – but the more noise that is made then perhaps in the long run there may be a chance – because as far as I can see it only way that justice will be seen to done in the courts in many of the cases where cyclists/pedestrians have been injured by “careless” acts. Simply enabling the measure would go a long way to forcing a change in the mind set of road users when encountering more vulnerable people.

Bear in mind it doesn't erode the innocent until proven guilty principle. It's simply an insurance issue, in the absence of proof otherwise the insurance will pay out to the cyclist/pedestrian. From a legal perspective even if your insurance pays out it doesn't make you guilty of anything.

If even this feels wrong to you - consider this. Unless you can prove conclusively to your insurance that you are in the right, often they'll pay out just to save them the hassle and costs of going to court. You pretty much have little say in what your insurance does anyway. Against this background I don't really see the problem.

Final thought is this, when a car and cyclist collide often it's just one's word against the other. In some cases not even that since the cyclist doesn't make it to put his case forward. How do you prove you were in the right when you're dead? It may not be possible to get a criminal conviction in cases like this but at least your family would get compensation. Might not be ideal justice but at least it would be some.

psmiffy
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby psmiffy » 13 Nov 2009, 1:19pm

Kwackers - I am afraid that regardless of my reservations I would like to see it in motoring law - in my mind (and I am a car driver as well) if you hit a cyclist or pedestrian then unless you can prove otherwise then you have been careless - the momentary lack of concentration defence I find to be laughable - points at minimun on licience

thirdcrank
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Nov 2009, 2:58pm

psmiffy wrote:... the momentary lack of concentration defence ...


It's not a defence at all - mitigation at the most. However the CPS has its own guidelines about when to prosecute "bad driving" and this arises there.

The CPS conducted a public consultation excercise over these guidelines earlier this year, that was the time to make the point. I've linked to this stuff several times recently.

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CJ
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby CJ » 13 Nov 2009, 3:11pm

kwackers wrote:Bear in mind it doesn't erode the innocent until proven guilty principle. It's simply an insurance issue.

Even if we take this beyond the field of insurance, to hold drivers responsible for any harm done by the vehicle they are driving, does not erode the innocent until proven guilty principle. It merely puts the motor car back onto the same footing as any other piece of dangerous machinery being operated in a public open space.

If there is no proof that a particular car did the damage or that Mr X was driving it, then of course Mr X remains innocent. But so long as it's proven that it did and he was, that is proof enough, I reckon, to establish his negligence.

All you've got to do to see the sense in this is to substitute "car" and "road" for "hedge-trimmer" and "footpath".
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glueman
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby glueman » 13 Nov 2009, 4:29pm

Absolutely agree with CJ. Motoring in the UK has somehow evaded moral responsibility for the operation of heavy machinery. Driving without absolute accountability has become a cause celebre for libertarians, who like to equate the car with wider western values. The only comparison I see is there are plenty of cowboys in charge.

The collapse of public transport, especially local railways and rural bus services, reinforced the idea of the motorcar as a birthright and it'll take a lot of re-education to make that mental U-turn in public consciousness.

reohn2
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby reohn2 » 13 Nov 2009, 4:50pm

CJ,Glueman,
+1 Might is right has become the law,its time for justice.
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thekelticfringe
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby thekelticfringe » 14 Nov 2009, 8:45am

Anyone else see the TV programme on this last night?

Depressing!

A re-enactment of three cyclist -v- cardriver accidents that were ludicrous in the degree to which they failed to represent any real road riding/driving experience.

Then a 'hands-'up' poll amongst the usual suspects from cycling and motoring worlds (A cycle commuter, a man from CTC, Tiff Needell, VBH, a Liverpool Taxi driver with 20 years service etc IIRC) as to "who was responsible" for each accident, which pretty much split along partisan lines.

The justification offered by the pundits for their opinion was trivial - VBH saying "The cyclist never looked before moving out to go around the parked car = his fault" and the cycling 'team' saying that the "Overtaking vehicle (-i.e. the car-) has the primary responsibility for executing a safe manoeuvre = his fault".

Shame - could have been a genuine opportunity to have a worthwhile debate and an appeal for courtesy, tolerance and awareness amoungst all road users, rather than fuelling the 'them and us' attitudes.

Lazy journalism!
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George Riches
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby George Riches » 14 Nov 2009, 9:59am

thekelticfringe wrote:Lazy journalism!

It's info-tainment. Road safety is boring, people are looking for excitement on a Friday night, so the show's producers aim to raise the emotional temperature.

Nevertheless I do think that going for this idea of automatic liability for non-vulnerable users is a waste of time. Far better to aim for the achievable than spend a lot of time and emotional energy on what will turn into a series of roman circus spectaculars. Cyclists being the Christians and motoring journalists the lions.
Last edited by George Riches on 14 Nov 2009, 10:59am, edited 1 time in total.

reohn2
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby reohn2 » 14 Nov 2009, 10:43am

Last nights program was utter,utter,tripe and waste of time, just fuelling car drivers predujices.
I can see the motoring lobby's POV regarding liability, from their side it means they will have to change their attitude and driving standards,and we don't like change do we?
They see it as an ideal opportunity for cyclists to run into their cars and claim compensation,not a case for themselves to become more responsible toward more vulnerable road users :?

Regarding last nights program,did anyone notice the subtle way when in Holland "cyclists are kept away from cars by having there own lanes/paths"was put across.
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drsquirrel
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby drsquirrel » 14 Nov 2009, 12:09pm

thekelticfringe wrote:Anyone else see the TV programme on this last night?


The justification offered by the pundits for their opinion was trivial - VBH saying "The cyclist never looked before moving out to go around the parked car = his fault" and the cycling 'team' saying that the "Overtaking vehicle (-i.e. the car-) has the primary responsibility for executing a safe manoeuvre = his fault".



Which show? I am wondering if I even want to see it...

Didn't you know, that we have to stop behind parked cars and give way to anything behind us? :roll:


Some of us should make some re-enactments of our own and post them up on youtube, oh wait, there is already a bajillion... :p

thirdcrank
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby thirdcrank » 14 Nov 2009, 1:26pm

I think it would be invaluable to have an explanation from somebody with a legal background and a knowledge of how this operates in continental countries and who could explain it to us in simple terms. I don't mean "I've cycled in France and it's brilliant " but rather an outline of the specific laws and the the mechanism by which they are applied.

This thread began with a link to a newspaper article which made it clear that the proposals - whatever they are - would only apply to civil cases (ie liability to pay compo) yet a lot of the subsequent comment has been about anything but that.

I've no doubt that if the govt, in the form of Placeman Adonis, (sorry Baron Adonis) is really thinking about this type of proposal, they must have some expert advice on what the continental system involves before they can see how it might be introduced here. That sort of analysis would also promote informed comment on here.

psmiffy
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby psmiffy » 14 Nov 2009, 2:03pm

Thirdcrank - I agree I cycled in France, The Low Countries and Sacandinavia "and it was brilliant" - I had to recalibrate my behavior when I returned to UK on a cold wet October morning - but having seen it at first hand I can't find very much explaining how it works - so if anyone is able to explain then please

thekelticfringe
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby thekelticfringe » 14 Nov 2009, 6:43pm

Rather like motorcycling, compare the hazard faced by a cyclist hitting/being hit by a car (or Artic!) with the hazard faced by a car driver being hit/hitting a bike. So, whilst irresponsible biking is as unacceptable as irresponsible driving, there maybe should be a presumption in favour of the vulnerable, no?
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thirdcrank
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Re: Cycling plan to blame drivers for all crashes

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Nov 2009, 9:06am

thekelticfringe

I'm not sure if your last post is a response to mine inviting comment from somebody who knows of this operates in practice. If so, I think I've already got the drift.

Whenever something like this is suggested the press gets hold of it and it's derided as something dreamt up by these Johnnie Foreigners as part of a plan to enforce straight bananas sold in litres, and signposts showing distances in hectares. The reaction among cyclists is not always really much better informed.

I suggest that what's needed now is some factual info about how, for example, the French judicial system operates this. I understand that many of the investigative functions that would be undertaken by police here are done by judges in France and that judges take a much more active part in trials, undertaking some of the functions we would assign to the prosecutor. I also know that French judges are specially trained as such, rather than being existing lawyers who get it as either a promotion or a retirement opportunity. Police officers there report directly to the judiciary, rather than having every part of the system separate.

As I've posted many times before, right from its formation, the CPS has never got to grips with traffic prosecutions. Part of this is a budgetary thing, but even before the CPS, the solicitors employed directly by the police to undertake prosecutions took the line that many due care cases following road accidents were inappropriate. Of course, they will also say that they cannot prosecute where the evidence is inadequate but it's a two-way thing, and police officers are not going to devote a lot of effort to preparing evidence files if they know it's headed straight for the bin. It strikes me athat as well as a change in the law, we probably need a complete culture change. It may just be that these cunning Europeans have a lot to teach us, but to learn the lessons, we need facts.