Safe Drivers and Vehicles

Chris Peck's picture

Over half of Britons think roads are too dangerous, and only 33% ride a bike

Statistics published from the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey show that the public is very concerned about cycle safety, and only a third ever ride a bike.
Only a small proportion of people ever ride a bike

The British Social Attitudes survey is a useful barometer of attitudes, showing a gradual growth of scepticism over climate change, and a declining lack of concern over pollution, congestion or road building over the last 7 years.

Respondents remain supportive of 20 mph speed limits (72% approve) and fairly enthusiastic about speed bumps (51% in favour, 30% against).

What does it tell us about cycling?

Chris Peck's picture

Fewer drivers killed but cycle serious injuries and deaths up in 2012: complacency over road safety?

Cycle serious casualties up 5% in 2012 against the previous year, the 8th consecutive year of increase, exceeding the background growth in cycling. Meanwhile pedestrian casualties have also started to rise, while those for car occupants are falling. What's happening?
Newer cars (left) are almost 3 times safer for occupants than older ones

A rise in the risk of cycling is seriously bad news, reconfirming that Government and local authorities need to up their game in improving conditions for cyclists.

However, the Government can point to a fall in all road deaths to the record low of 1,754 to claim that they are making progress on road safety. 

Chris Peck's picture

Risk of cycling still rising amid slashed policing and inadequate investment

Figures released today show that although cycle use has risen slightly, the increase in serious cycle injuries has been greater, meaning that the overall risk of cycling is rising. CTC is calling on the Government to respond to the Get Britain Cycling report with adequate investment.
Which way for cycling policy? Investment is falling and risk is rising

The risks to cycling have increased in Great Britain, following a 5% increase in cycle serious injuries and deaths but a smaller increase in cycle use in 2012.

The figures, published by the Department for Transport, show that in 2012 cycle fatalities rose from 107 in 2011 to 118. 

CTC's picture

Appeal against the sentence of a motorist convicted of killing a cyclist will be heard in August

Prosecutors challenging the five-year driving ban imposed on Gary McCourt on the grounds that the sentence was ''unduly lenient'' have announced that the appeal will take place on August 13th. The right to appeal was granted on 31 May following a campaign launched by CTC and Audrey Fyfe's family.

McCourt was found guilty in April of causing the death of Audrey Fyfe by driving carelessly and hitting the back wheel of her bike in Edinburgh. The 75-year-old died two days after the incident in August 2011. 

McCourt was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service.  At the end of the trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, it emerged he was convicted of causing another cyclist's death in 1986.

Roger Geffen's picture

BMA's helmet stance questioned as USA safety authorities drop key helmet claim

As American cycle campaigners persuade the US safety authorities to drop a key claim for the effectiveness of helmets, and new evidence suggesting that Canada's helmet laws had no detectable effect, the BMA's stance on helmet laws is questioned by Ben Goldacre of 'Bad Science' fame.
London Mayor Boris Johnson wants to "delycrafy" cycling

In an editorial in the current British Medical Journal (BMJ – i.e. the magazine of the British Medical Association, BMA), co-authored with risk professor David Spiegelhalter, Goldacre openly questions the BMA’s support for laws that would ban people from cycling without helmets.

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.

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