Safe Drivers and Vehicles

Road Justice

Road Justice supported by Slater & Gordon Lawyers
The Road Justice campaign seeks to change driver attitudes and the approach of the law to bad driving.
Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle helmets

There is no justification for making helmet-wearing compulsory - it could undermine levels of cycle use and, in any case, the effectiveness of helmets is far from clear.
Cyclist
Headline Messages: 
  • CTC is opposed to both cycle helmet laws and to helmet promotion campaigns, as these are almost certainly detrimental to public health. Evidence shows that the health benefits of cycling are so much greater than the (relatively low) risks involved, that even if these measures caused only a very small reduction in cycle use, this would still almost certainly mean far more lives being lost through physical inactivity than helmets could possibly save, however effective they might be.
  • There are in any case serious doubts about the effectiveness of helmets. They are (and can only be) designed to withstand minor knocks and falls, not serious traffic collisions. Some evidence suggests they may in fact increase the risk of cyclists having falls or collisions in the first place, or suffering neck injuries. Neither enforced helmet laws nor promotion campaigns have been shown to reduce serious head injuries, except by reducing cycling. The remaining cyclists do not gain any detectable reduction in risk, and they may lose some of the benefits from 'safety in numbers'.
  • So instead of focusing on helmets, health and road safety professionals and others should promote cycling as a safe, normal, aspirational and enjoyable activity, using helmet-free role-models and imagery. Individual cyclists may sometimes choose to use helmets – either for confidence or because of the type of cycling they are doing – however they should not feel under any pressure to wear them.  For the sake of our health, it is more important to encourage people of all ages to cycle, than to make an issue of whether they use a helmet when doing so.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Government and other bodies concerned with health or road safety should simply aim to encourage people to cycle, regardless or whether or not they choose to wear helmets when doing so. Enforced helmet laws cause deep and enduring reductions in cycle use, undermining its very substantial health and other benefits. Given that the risks of cycling are low – they are not greatly different from those of walking or other forms of active recreation – even a very small reduction in cycle use would be counter-productive to health and other public policy objectives, regardless of the effectiveness or otherwise of helmets. In practice, this disbenefit is potentially very substantial, not least because the deterrent effect is likely to be strongest among key target groups for physical activity promotion, e.g. women, teenagers, less well-off communities and ethnic minority groups.
  • Cycle helmets have in any case not been shown to be an effective way to reduce cyclists’ injury risks. Indeed they might even be counter-productive, by encouraging drivers or cyclists to behave less cautiously, and/or by increasing the risks of neck and other injuries. By deterring people from cycling, they may also reduce the benefits that cyclists gain from ‘safety in numbers’.
  • Enforcing helmet laws would require levels of police activity that would be grossly disproportionate to any possible benefits. Conversely, unenforced helmet laws make no long-term difference to helmet use, and therefore cannot provide benefits in any case.
  • Road safety policies should prioritise measures that reduce the risks that deter people from cycling – traffic speeds, hostile roads and junctions, dangerous or irresponsible driving, and lorries – and offering quality cycle training for people of all ages, to give them the confidence and skills to ride safely on the roads.
  • Individuals should be free to make their own decisions about whether or not to wear helmets, with parents making these decisions in the case of younger children. Their decisions should be informed by clear information about the uncertainties over the benefits or otherwise of helmets.
  • CTC supports politicians, celebrities and other role-models who chose to cycle without wearing helmets. Far from “acting irresponsibly”, they help to boost the perception of cycling as a normal, safe, aspirational and stylish activity that anyone can do in whatever clothes they would normally be wearing.
  • Schools, employers and the organisers of non-sporting cycling events (e.g. sponsored rides) should not seek to impose helmet rules for their pupils, staff and participants respectively. These rules are not justified in terms of health and safety, they are likely to reduce both the numbers and the diversity of people who take part in cycling, and they may in some circumstances be illegal.
  • There is limited evidence on the risks involved in different types of off-road recreational cycling (from family riding to downhill mountain biking etc) and cycle sport. Likewise, evidence on the potential for helmet use to mitigate (or exacerbate) these risks is equally limited. These are in any case not matters for road safety policy.
  • For sporting events, CTC recognises the right of governing bodies to require the wearing of helmets in line with their own and international regulations for these events, given the different types of risk to which sport cyclists are exposed.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
May 2013
Chris Peck's picture

London takes a step towards risk-based approach to road safety

A new road safety plan for the next 7 years has been launched for London. CTC was critical of earlier drafts for failing to include the means to measure the risks of cycling, rather than simply the number of people seriously injured or killed.
TfL's new Road Safety Action Plan has been published

The most crucial aspect of an overarching plan such as the Road Safety Action Plan is its target and the way it is measured.

For ease and simplicity, local authorities and Government have historically adopted a target based solely on the number of people killed and seriously injured. 

Intuitively, this seems to make sense: a target based on numbers killed or seriously injured tackles the public health problem of road injuries directly.

Chris Peck's picture

Careless driving fixed penalty welcomed

16 August 2013
CTC welcomes the fixed penalty notice for careless driving and the associated 50% increase in all motoring fixed penalties to £100, but urges that dangerous driving still needs to be dealt with by the courts.
More traffic police are needed to make best use of the new FPN

The idea of a 'careless driving' fixed penalty notice (FPN) isn't new - the previous Government mentioned it in a consultation in 2008 and last year the Government's Strategic Framework for Road Safety introduced the idea formally into policy. Now they are consulting on how best to introduce the FPN, with the intention to divert many of the drivers who receive the penalty onto 'better driving courses', a practice already common with speeding.

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RhiaWeston's picture

CTC launches Road Justice campaign

4 June 2013
CTC has launched its Road Justice Campaign, which will take to task the police, the prosecution services and the judiciary over the way they treat bad driving and bad drivers.
CTC's Road Justice campaign

The launch of the campaign, which is supported by Slater & Gordon Lawyers, comes just days after the success of CTC’s campaign for an appeal of the ‘unduly lenient’ sentence given to Edinburgh driver Gary McCourt, who killed two cyclists.

Cherry Allan's picture

Compensation for injured cyclists

The rules about liability for road crashes need to be changed to make it easier and quicker for cyclists and pedestrians to be compensated if they are injured in collisions with motor vehicles.
Cycling in traffic
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling causes little harm to others and it is not a hazardous activity. However, the actions of those engaged in a hazardous activity (i.e. driving), can put cyclists at risk.
  • While most drivers are generally considerate, the fact remains that non-motorised road users are disproportionately affected by road crashes and the compensation process is often complex and protracted.
  • This imbalance could be corrected by introducing ‘presumed liability’ (also known as ‘stricter liability’). This is the legal presumption made in civil law that injured cyclists and pedestrians are entitled to compensation from drivers who hit them, unless the victim was obviously at fault. ‘Presumed liability’ has been adopted by most west European countries.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • The UK should introduce ‘presumed liability’ rules to compensate cyclists and pedestrians for road crash injuries, as is normal in most west European countries. They should be entitled to full compensation from the driver’s insurance unless the driver (or in practice their lawyers/insurers) can show that the injury was caused by the cyclist or pedestrian behaving in a way that fell well below the standard that could be expected of them, taking account of their age, abilities and the circumstances of the collision.
  • Findings of ‘contributory negligence’ – i.e. a partial reduction in compensation where the injured party is at least partly at fault – should be exceptional, and certainly not be found against cyclists for: riding without a helmet; riding without high visibility clothing; not using a cycle facility; or for mere technical breaches of the Highway Code’s non-statutory rules for cyclists.
  • Particularly vulnerable people (e.g. children, the elderly and those with learning or physical disabilities), should receive full compensation from the driver’s insurance in any event, unless they evidently wanted to harm themselves.
  • Passing any proportion of the legal costs of pursuing compensation to the innocent victim of a road crash is unfair and wrong. The objective of damages in these cases should be to provide full compensation for injured people both for their injuries and financial losses. They are also a way of holding the person who caused the injury to account.
  • Taking out third party liability insurance is a sensible precaution for regular cyclists, but it should not be compulsory for everyone wanting to cycle.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
June 2013
RhiaWeston's picture

CTC welcomes decision to appeal sentence for Audrey Fyfe's killer driver

CTC and the family of cyclist Audrey Fyfe have welcomed the decision by the Crown Counsel in Edinburgh to refer Gary McCourt’s sentence for appeal, following a campaign by CTC and other organisations’ supporters.
Audrey Fyfe

Over 6000 CTC members, other cycling organisations’ supporters and members of the public wrote to the Lord Advocate in support of an appeal over the last few weeks.

RhiaWeston's picture

Personal message from acquaintance of Audrey Fyfe and George Dalgity

CTC has been contacted by an acquaintance of both Audrey Fyfe and George Dalgity. He sent in a heartfelt but considered letter, which he gave us permission to share.
Audrey Fyfe - the second of McCourt's victims

I have written to the Rt. Hon the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, to ask that he consider appealing what I feel is the lenient sentence handed down to Gary McCourt. I knew both Audrey Fyfe and George Dalgity. In 1985, I was general practitioner to the Dalgity family, and I witnessed at first hand the effect George’s death had on them. They were quite literally devastated, totally bewildered and absolutely bereft.

Chris Peck's picture

The AA and BSM launch cycle awareness module for all driving instructors

CTC has welcomed the announcement by the AA and BSM that they will roll out a cycle awareness module to its driving instructors. The absence of cycle training for teenagers and the poor understanding of needs and rights of cyclists by some of the population has lead to aggressive behaviour.
BSM learner vehicle next to a cyclists in Cambridge

The driver awareness module would teach driving instructors about cyclists' needs, and also overturn some myths about cyclists' right to use the roads.

The AA and British School of Motoring (BSM) announcement is in large part thanks to the  President of the AA, Edmund King's personal backing of a more conciliatory culture of road use between cyclists and motorists.

RhiaWeston's picture

Letter delivered to Lord Advocate supporting sentence appeal

On 14 May CTC’s Chief Executive, Gordon Seabright, CTC Scotland’s Councillor, Peter Hayman, and CTC’s Road Safety campaigner, Rhia Weston, met with relatives of Gary McCourt’s two victims; Audrey Fyfe and George Dalgity at the Crown Office in Edinburgh.
Letter delivered to the Lord Advocate supporting an appeal of the sentence

We met to present a letter to the Lord Advocate outlining why the ludicrous sentence handed down to McCourt for causing Mrs Fyfe’s death should be appealed. We also met with the Head of Appeals and Head of Criminal Justice Policy at the Crown Office to discuss concerns with the leniency of the sentence and the legally irrelevant comments made by the sheriff about helmets.

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  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541

 

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