Safe Drivers and Vehicles

Cherry Allan's picture


Motorcyclists and cyclists have much in common, but motorcycling poses more risk to others and does not offer the same environmental benefits...
Cyclist and motorcyclist
Headline Messages: 
  • As vulnerable road users, cyclists and motorcyclists share much common ground.
  • However, CTC is concerned that cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk from motorcycles than they are from cars, so we object to moves to allow motorcycles to share cycle facilities such as Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) at junctions
  • We are also concerned about the impact that more motorcycling could have on the environment.
  • We therefore support policies to improve motorcyclists’ safety but, given the need to restrain motor traffic in general, we do not support actions intended to increase the use of motorcycles, or actions that might have this effect.
Key facts: 
  • In 2013 (GB), motorcyclists were 60 times more likely to be killed per billion miles than car occupants, and 3.5 times more likely than cyclists.
  • For every mile they travel, PTWs are more likely than a car to kill a cyclist. From 2009-13, cars accounted for 78% of GB traffic on average per year, and were involved in 58% of cyclist deaths, whereas PTWs accounted for 1% of traffic, but were involved in 2% of cyclist deaths.
  • In 2013, on 30 mph roads in built up areas, nearly half of all motorcycles exceeded the speed limit, 21% by 5 mph or more.
  • Many pollutants from Britain’s PTW fleet are worse (some considerably worse) than they are for cars.
  • In 2013, larger licenced PTWs (over 600cc) made up 41.6% of Great Britain’s PTW fleet, up from 35.7% in 2004.
  • In urban areas, less than 10% of motorcyclist casualties (killed and serious) in urban areas happen at  signalised junctions – in fact, motorcyclists are more likely to killed on rural than on urban roads.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC recognises that motorcyclists and cyclists share a number of road safety problems, but is concerned that cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk from PTWs than they are from cars. 
  • National and local motorcycling policies should be informed by a comprehensive, Government-led assessment of the effects that a greater take-up of motorcycling might have. This should look at its impact on:
    • the safety (both actual and perceived) of (would-be) pedestrians and cyclists
    • the promotion and attractiveness of the cleaner, healthier, quieter and more sustainable alternatives of walking and cycling
    • the environment (pollutants and noise)
    • congestion 
  • PTWs should not be allowed in bus lanes, advanced stop lines (ASLs), vehicle-restricted areas or locations where pedal cycles enjoy exemptions from vehicle restrictions. This must necessarily apply to all PTWs, as larger, faster and more polluting machines make up the majority of the PTW fleet and it is not practical to provide traffic regulation benefits for the safest and cleanest machines alone.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
January 2015
Roger Geffen's picture

CTC urges action on cycle safety as casualty rates rise

New figures show that cyclist casualty numbers, particularly serious cyclist casualties, are still rising more steeply than cycle use.
Cyclist outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Today's Government figures show a worsening of road safety in Britain for all road users, but with cyclists faring particularly badly.

They compare road casualties during the third quarter of 2014 with the same period the previous year, as well as providing whole-year comparisons of the year to September 2014 with the previous one-year period.


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Roger Geffen's picture

"Pointless" prosecution of helmet-cam cyclist dropped, but 'Justice for Michael' quest continues

The Cyclists’ Defence Fund has welcomed a last-minute decision not to prosecute cyclist Kristian Gregory for allegedly straying slightly over a white line on a poorly designed and unclearly signed pavement cycle track.
The unclearly signed, poorly designed cycle track where Gregory was fined

Gregory was stopped and fined on 3 July 2014, by a PCSO taking part in the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Safeway. This operation was after a horrific spate of 6 London cyclists’ deaths in 13 days during November 2013. Between then and last July, the Met issued £50 fines to nearly 10,000 cyclists.


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Roger Geffen's picture

Critical report is not tough enough on police and prosecutors

Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have been criticised in a watchdog’s report published today, but CTC says some of the criticisms should have been even sharper.
Handing CTC's 'Road Justice' policing report to ACPOs head of roads policing

The report, written jointly by the HM Inspectorates of Constabulary (HMIC) and of the Crown Prosecution Service (HMCPSI), looked at how road deaths were handled in a sample of six police force areas.

Cherry Allan's picture

The legal framework and sentencing policy

The legal framework and sentencing for driving offences need to reinforce the message that endangering other road users is unacceptable.
Driver at wheel
Headline Messages: 
  • All road users should share the roads responsibly, with respect for the law and the safety and comfort of others. Irresponsible driving, however, poses a disproportionate threat to pedestrians and cyclists and puts people off travelling by foot or cycle, despite its health, environmental and economic benefits.
  • Society expects high safety standards of other potentially lethal activities – e.g. rail and air travel, in workplaces or on construction sites – and the law creates strong obligations to avoid or minimise the risks. It is not the same for the roads. There, lapses are regularly dismissed merely as ‘accidents’ or ‘carelessness’ and the penalties are often derisory.
  • Driving a car, however, is the one situation in which normally law-abiding citizens put other people routinely at risk. Such people do not deliberately set out to cause harm, but a moment’s inattention may cause serious injury and sometimes death. This is a dilemma for the justice system – one that has yet to be solved effectively.
  • An overhaul of the framework of bad driving offences and sentencing is one of the solutions. In particular, the system should ensure that dangerous driving is never dismissed as being merely ‘careless’; and there should be far greater use of lengthy driving bans both as a penalty and to protect the public. This would make it clearer that it is unacceptable to endanger other road users – and it would help encourage more and safer cycling.


Key facts: 
  • In 2013, only about 1% of all trip stages were made by cycle, but cyclists represented around 6% of fatalities and 15% of serious injuries.
  • Around 88% of cyclists’ road fatalities reported by the police happen in crashes involving a motor vehicle.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, the number of drivers being disqualified dropped by 37.6%, even though there was only a 17% fall in road casualties.
  • For dangerous driving with a fatal outcome, the maximum sentence is 14 years; for both dangerous driving that causes a serious injury, and causing death by ‘careless’ driving, the maximum prison sentence is 5 years.
  • In 2013, only 80% of motorists convicted of killing another road user had their licence taken away, compared to 94% ten years beforehand. In May 2013, 7,842 of the 12,470 (63%) drivers who had more than 12 points on their licence were not disqualified.
  • Around three quarters of motoring offences are penalised by fines. Bans are given for just over 1 in 12 offences, most (65%) for less than 6 months.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

Legal framework

  • The legal framework should reflect the fact that it is unacceptable to endanger and intimidate other road users, not least cyclists and pedestrians who are disproportionately affected by road crashes.
  • The law states that driving is ‘dangerous’ when “…it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.” All too often, however, prosecutors and courts dismiss such driving merely as ‘careless’ offences.
  • In the first instance, prosecutors and courts should understand and apply the current definitions of ‘dangerous’ and ‘careless’ correctly. Prosecution policy and guidelines should provide accurate advice on these charges and be drafted accordingly. If this does not improve the situation, changes to primary legislation may be needed to end the use of the word ‘careless’ altogether for driving offences that can maim or kill.

Sentencing policy

  • The underlying principle of sentencing must be that offending drivers should not be treated more leniently than those who kill or injure through non-traffic crime.
  • Whether a seriously injured victim happens to survive or die makes too much difference to the sentences available, even though the driving in question may have been equally bad. Sentencing should be consistent and reflect the standard of driving and not its outcome.
  • Sentencing should reflect whether the driver has created danger through wilful aggression or obvious risk-taking, or whether it happened as a result of a simple lapse of attention.
  • For the protection of the public, long driving bans should be more widely used to penalise drivers who have caused serious dangers, but not recklessly or intentionally. Pleas of ‘hardship’ should not be accepted.
  • When drivers have caused danger intentionally or recklessly, or if they have a history of breaching driving bans, long custodial sentences are more appropriate.
  • Professional drivers whose licence has been revoked and other disqualified drivers should be required to undergo remedial training and re-testing, as a mandatory step to recovering a licence.
  • The courts should avoid relying solely on fines where a victim has been seriously or fatally injured as this can trivialise the seriousness of the offence, particularly when the fine is small.
  • The courts should be given the power to impose driver re-training as a sanction for convicted offenders.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
December 2014
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.
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.
  • 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.
Key facts: 
  • In the UK, the life years gained due to cycling’s health benefits outweigh the life-years lost through injuries by around 20:1. Mile for mile, the slim chances of being killed whilst cycling are about the same those for walking, and on average, 1 cyclist is killed on Britain’s roads for every 27 million miles travelled by cycle.
  • Enforced helmet laws have consistently caused substantial reductions in cycle use (e.g. 30-40% in Perth, Western Australia). They have also increased the proportion of the remaining cyclists who wear helmets, yet the safety of these cyclists has not improved relative to other road user groups (e.g. in New Zealand).
  • Even if helmets could prevent all cyclist injuries (including non-head injuries), a UK helmet law would only have to reduce the level of cycle use by about 4.7% to shorten more lives through inactivity than helmets themselves could possibly save.
  • Standards only require cycle helmets to withstand the sort of impact that a rider is likely to suffer if they fall from their cycle from a stationary position (about 12 mph). They are not and cannot be designed to withstand impacts with faster-moving cars, let alone lorries.
  • Cycling typically accounts for 7-8% of the head injuries for which children are admitted to English hospitals – just a quarter of these to parts of the head that a helmet might protect.
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: 
December 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Goods vehicles (lorries, HGVs, vans etc)

Lorries pose a disproportionate threat to cyclists. There is a range of measures that should be introduced to reduce the hazard as a matter or urgency...
Goods vehicle
Headline Messages: 
  • Lorries pose a disproportionate threat to cyclists and pedestrians, so reducing the danger and intimidation they pose is a key road safety issue, especially in urban areas.
  • Ways to tackle the problem include: maintaining and enforcing safe driving and vehicle standards; training and information for both cyclists and goods vehicle drivers; cycle-friendly vehicles and road layout; routing and distribution strategies that minimise conflict and the number of HGVs in towns and cities; and restricting access to busy urban streets at peak times.
Key facts: 
  • In Great Britain, goods vehicles (excluding light vans) make up only around 3.7% of non-motorway traffic, but are on average involved in around a fifth of cyclists’ road deaths per year.
  • In urban areas, HGVs make up 2% of non-motorway traffic, and are involved in 24% of cyclists’ deaths.
  • In London specifically, where HGVs make up around 3.5% of traffic, almost half of the 44 cyclist fatalities between 2011-13 (inclusive) were as a result of a collision with a lorry. Of these 21, ten involved a collision with a left-turning lorry.
  • A cyclist is much more likely to die if they are in collision with a lorry than if they are in collision with a car: on average, cyclists are killed in around a fifth of serious injury collisions involving heavy goods vehicles, but in just over 2% of cyclist/car collisions.
  • On average, HGVs are involved in 14% of GB pedestrian fatalities per year.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Goods vehicles pose a disproportionate threat to cyclists. Action must be taken by national and local government, hauliers and fleet operators, the police, the Health and Safety Executive and other enforcement agencies, as well as by individual lorry drivers and cyclists themselves.
  • Lorries pose risk to both cyclists and pedestrians, so the focus should be on lorries and lorry drivers, not just on cyclists.  Many of the following measures that would help protect cyclists, would benefit pedestrians too (NB these are not necessarily in priority order given the need for more research into their relative effectiveness – see below):
    • Ensuring that vehicles are safe and that drivers are fit to drive them. This needs to be supported by rigorous enforcement of driving and vehicle standards by the responsible agencies.
    • Cycle awareness training for drivers or, better still, actual cycle training.
    • Training for cyclists to help them interact with goods vehicles as safely as possible.
    • Publicity campaigns for drivers and cyclists alike, highlighting the hazards and how to avoid them.
    • Designing and specifying lorries to provide clear direct vision between the driving position and any pedestrians or cyclists near to the vehicle, including fitting bigger windows. To complement this (or where better direct vision is genuinely impossible to deliver effectively), other safety devices should be specified and fitted, e.g.: sensors and alarms, in-cab cameras; mirrors/lenses; side guards; external warning signs; and intelligent speed adaptation.
  • Road layouts and street furniture (e.g. ‘Trixi’ mirrors) that facilitate safe interaction.
  • Traffic management measures, routing and distribution strategies to mitigate the impact of lorries on places where people cycle or want to cycle. These include banning lorries on busy streets at certain times of the day while permitting night-time deliveries instead; establishing distribution centres on the edge of urban areas where lorries can pass loads onto smaller vehicles for onward delivery; and carrying more freight by rail and water.
  • Promoting freight cycles for goods distribution in urban areas.
  • Procurement policies, especially from public authorities, ensuring that the supply and delivery of goods and services takes the safety of vulnerable road users into account.
  • Research into the efficacy of all the above measures needs to be done, with the Department for Transport (DfT), Transport for London (TfL), other local authorities and operators all collaborating EU-wide, as required.
  • CTC opposes moves to introduce longer and/or heavier lorries on the UK roads.
  • Individual haulage companies and the associations that represent them should develop, publish, maintain and monitor strategies, action plans and fleet management practices that minimise the risks goods vehicles pose to cyclists. Where appropriate, these should be produced jointly with local authorities and enforcement agencies and be based on consultation with cyclists’ representatives.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
December 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Daylight saving

Shifting the UK’s clocks to give one extra hour of daylight in the evening and one less in the morning would affect everyone. Research should help decide if cyclists would benefit...
Cyclist on path
Headline Messages: 
  • Currently, many hours of daylight are ‘lost’ in the morning before most people get up. Aligning UK time with Central European Time (CET) would allow more light for leisure activities in the evening and reduce the need for lighting later in the day.
  • It is possible that a shift to CET would also result in fewer road crashes overall, although an increase on winter mornings may occur.

Note: This briefing is about proposals to shift the UK to Central European Time (CET), also known as ‘single/double summer time’. This would mean that in summer, clocks would be set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) +2 hours and in winter to GMT+1 hour. The clocks would still go forward in spring and back in autumn, but there would be one extra hour of daylight in the evening, and one less in the morning.

Key facts: 

According to LighterLater, the campaign to introduce daylight saving, its introduction would:

  • Save 100 lives each year and prevent hundreds of serious injuries by making the roads safer;
  • Help make people healthier and tackle obesity by giving people more time to exercise and play sport outside in the evening;
  • Save the NHS around £138 million a year through reducing road casualties.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • CTC supports the idea of researching the effect of shifting time zones to align with many of our European neighbours. Such changes may bring considerable economic and environmental benefits and contribute to improved road safety.
  • In addition to the possible disadvantages of the shift for certain areas of the country and certain professions, there may be specific road safety effects on cyclists, such as the potential for greater exposure to icy conditions on winter mornings. These must be taken into account in the research.
  • CTC’s final view on daylight saving will be subject to the findings of any official research.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
January 2015
Cherry Allan's picture

Cycling under the influence

Riding whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is an offence...
Cycle and car
Headline Messages: 

This briefing explains the law on cycling under the influence of drink or drugs. It should be read in conjunction with our policies on cyclists' behaviour and the law.

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 

Please refer to CTC's briefing on cyclists' behaviour and the law for our policies on cycling offences.

Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
November 2014
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, but the actions of those engaged in a hazardous activity (i.e. driving), can put cyclists at risk.
  • Most drivers are generally considerate, but the fact remains that pedestrians and cyclists 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’), a system already common in many west European countries. 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.
Key facts: 
  • In collisions between pedal cycles and cars, 99% of the cyclists are injured, but only just over 2% of car occupants.
  • In road crashes involving pedal cycles and one other vehicle, cyclists are about half as likely to be at fault than the other party.
  • In most western European countries, the bigger vehicle is presumed responsible in collisions, and/or motor vehicles are held strictly liable for injuries to non-motorised users (NMUs). The exceptions are the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta.
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 difficulties 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: 
December 2014
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