Safe Drivers and Vehicles

RhiaWeston's picture

Cameron confirms sentencing guidelines review for dangerous driving offences

CTC has welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron's confirmation during Prime Minister's questions on 9 October that the Government will conduct a review of sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences.
A view of Parilament

CTC reported on the Government’s announcement in August that the sentencing guidelines would be reviewed for the offences of causing death by careless driving, causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

DavidBrown's picture

Hope for a bike boost in Belfast as Giro d’Italia 2014 route announced

It is the first time this prestigious international event is being held outside continental Europe. The Giro d'Italia 2014 will travel from Belfast to Trieste in 21 stages and route details have just been announced.
The McClelland family at the 'Titanic' starting point in Belfast

Friday 9 May sees the Belfast stage, which starts at Titanic Belfast and takes in the Newtownards Road, Stormont, Queen's Bridge, the Ormeau Road, Stranmillis and finishes in Belfast city centre.

The Saturday leg - a 218 km cycle - starts on Belfast's Antrim Road and goes to Antrim, Ballymena, Bushmills, and the Giant's Causeway before taking in the coastline from Cushendall to Larne, then on to Whitehead and Carrickfergus before heading back to Belfast.

Chris Peck's picture

Where do drivers have the most penalty points?

Figures from CTC, the national cycling charity, obtained from Government data, show which locations in the country have the highest concentration of drivers with penalty points.
CTC's map shows the proportion of drivers who have points

Glasgow tops the list, with 14.5% of drivers living in the postcode area with points. At the other end, Lerwick, in Shetland, has the fewest: just 4% of drivers have had their licences endorsed.

Full data is available to download in the table below. Tables showing the top 10 and bottom 10 locations where drivers have points on their licences can be found on CTC's Road Justice website.

CTC's picture

Scot Free: Justice system in Edinburgh fails cyclists as McCourt appeal refused

25 September 2013
CTC, the national cycling charity, is bitterly dismayed over today's decision of the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh to allow 49-year-old Gary McCourt, whose driving has killed two cyclists, back on the roads.
Family united in disbelief Aileen Brown, Ian Fyfe and Linda Hamilton.

In response to a campaign organised by CTC and Audrey Fyfe's family, over 6,000 people wrote to the Procurator Fiscal against McCourt's 'unduly lenient' sentence. McCourt knocked Audrey off her bike in August 2011 and she died two days later.

He was given just 300 hours community service and a five-year driving ban.

RhiaWeston's picture

Cyclist to challenge Fixed Penalty Notice after £2300 raised for legal fees.

Cyclists have shown overwhelming support for Alex Paxton's challenge of the FPN he received a few weeks ago. Individual donors have given a total of £2669.50. Alex has submitted his request for a hearing in the Magistrates court to contest the FPN.
Alex Paxton is challenging an unfairly issued FPN

Alex had intended to position himself in the cyclists’ box in order to turn right, but found that the box had been illegally occupied by a motorist. With concern for his own safety were he to stay in the inside lane and then have to cross three lanes of moving traffic in order to turn right, he decided to position himself ahead of the traffic and ahead of the Advanced Stop Line (ASL).

Chris Peck's picture

The THINK! campaign for bikes is relaunched - CTC assesses its impact

Running in some of the cities that received money for cycling recently, the THINK! campaign follows the now usual 'give and take' message that equates cyclists and drivers as similar sources of danger, both of which need to 'play their part'. However, the messages it sends out are largely sensible.
The DfT's THINK! campaign

A new cycle safety awareness campaign has been launched by the Department for Transport.

The campaign is based on imagery produced by Transport for London, and focuses on urban issues such as junctions, parked car doors and Advanced Stop Lines. Suburban and rural issues - such as close overtaking - are not given the same prominence in the campaign.

Cherry Allan's picture

Cycle awareness campaigns for drivers

Sustained campaigns to improve road users' behaviour can be beneficial, if well-designed and targeted. To be effective, they need to convey positive, memorable and truthful messages...
What Matters Most campaign poster
Headline Messages: 
  • Sustained campaigns to improve road users’ behaviour can be beneficial, if well-designed and targeted. The Government has, for example, tackled drink-driving effectively over the years through an awareness campaign backed up by law enforcement.
  • To be effective, driver awareness campaigns need to convey positive, memorable and truthful messages, and avoid giving the misleading impression that problem behaviour from cyclists causes anything like as much harm as problem behaviour from drivers.

 

CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Driver awareness campaigns relating to cycle safety should either convey positive messages about considerate and respectful road sharing by both groups, or, if aimed at addressing problem behaviours, they should deliver simple memorable messages to one group or the other, based on understanding why those behaviours occur.
  • Campaigns purporting to be even-handed by urging both drivers and cyclists not to engage in problem behaviours, create a false equivalence between the offences of the two groups. They are also poorly targeted in terms of actually influencing behaviour.
  • Tackling offending behaviour by cyclists is best done by engaging positively with the cycling community to mobilise peer pressure, e.g. through the cycling press or cycle trainers, rather than by ‘pandering to the gallery’ using simplistic negative stereotypes in public awareness campaigns.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
March 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Prosecutors and courts

To reinforce the message that driving that endangers other road users is socially unacceptable, prosecutors and courts should not dismiss 'dangerous' driving as merely 'careless'.
Driver at wheel
Headline Messages: 
  • Injuries to cyclists rarely lead to prosecution of the driver involved and, when they do, the accused often appears to escape lightly. This reinforces fears that the roads are lawless, dangerous places for cycling and walking.
  • To ensure that ‘dangerous’ driving is recognised for what it is, prosecutors and courts should interpret the law correctly and never dismiss such driving as merely ‘careless’.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • The prosecution of bad drivers should reinforce the message that it is unacceptable to endanger and intimidate other road users, not least cyclists and pedestrians who are disproportionately affected by road crashes. Offending drivers should not be treated more leniently than those who kill or injure through non-traffic crime.
  • 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 as ‘careless’ and the result is lenient sentencing.
  • Prosecutors and courts should understand and apply the current legal definitions of ‘dangerous’ and ‘careless’ correctly. Prosecution policy and guidelines should provide accurate advice on these charges and be drafted accordingly. Equally, juries should not be misdirected on the definitions of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving.
  • Prosecutors and courts should not take the driver’s intentions into account when deciding between a charge of ‘dangerous’ or ‘careless’ driving. If the driving in question caused obviously foreseeable danger, it is irrelevant whether or not the driver meant to do harm and a ‘dangerous’ charge should be brought.
  • Manslaughter or assault charges should be more widely used where there is evidence that danger was caused recklessly or intentionally.
  • Specifically, looking but failing to see a cyclist at a junction is inherently dangerous, and should be prosecuted as such.
  • Both the police and prosecutors should be more open and transparent about how they decide whether to charge a driver or not and, if they do charge, what charges to bring.
  • Cases of bad driving should not be prosecuted in the lower courts when death or very serious injury has occurred.
  • Juries should not be misdirected on the definitions of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving.
  • Courts should not let drivers off driving bans on the basis of pleas of ‘hardship’.
  • Courts should not pass sentences that demean the victim who may have been killed or seriously injured. Whilst CTC does not advocate long prison sentences for dangerous driving offences arising purely from lapses of attention by generally responsible drivers, the courts should nonetheless signal disapproval by considering substantial driving bans.
  • Courts should not indulge in ‘victim-blaming’ when directing juries in criminal cases or making judgements over civil compensation to the extent that it plays a part in downgrading, sentencing, acquittal and lower insurance payouts.
  • Coroners should ask witnesses relevant questions and/or permit relevant questions to be asked during inquest hearings.
  • Coroners should take their duty to write ‘Preventing Further Deaths’ reports seriously to highlight actions needed to prevent future road fatalities.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2014
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.

 

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: 
February 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Traffic police and other enforcement agencies

More effective traffic policing is crucial for cyclists, and also helps tackle one of the biggest fears that many others have about taking up cycling in the first place - namely, bad driving...
Cyclist and police car
Headline Messages: 
  • In the interests of road safety and traffic law enforcement, there should be more traffic police, well designed incident reporting systems and the commitment to investigate all collisions thoroughly, particularly those involving non-motorised users.
  • The Health and Safety Executive and other enforcement agencies with road safety responsibilities should prioritise these more highly and be adequately resourced to do so.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Investing in roads policing is highly effective, not only for promoting road safety, but also in tackling other forms of crime. It should be prioritised by national government and included in all overarching policing strategies and plans (e.g. the Strategic Priority Requirement in England and Wales). This would strengthen the case for individual police forces throughout the UK and Police and Crime Commissioners (England and Wales) to give it the priority it deserves.    
  • Police and Crime Commissioners and local authority crime reduction/safety partnerships must prioritise speeding, dangerous driving and other road traffic offences as key issues to address.
  • The police should always refer serious injury collisions up to the prosecution service for a charging decision, not just those that result in a fatality. If they do not charge or decide not to refer the case, the police should be required to explain their decision systematically.
  • The police should avoid simply sending offending drivers on speed awareness or other remedial courses instead of prosecuting them.  Such courses should be available as court sanctions, not as an alternative to prosecution.
  • The police should be trained so that they understand the practical and legal issues facing cyclists and other non-motorised users.
  • Wherever possible, the police should respond to any reported collision involving a cyclist or pedestrian by:
    • Attending  the scene, taking statements and gathering evidence from witnesses;
    • Investigating incidents that result in very serious injury as thoroughly as those that result in death – the name of the College of Policing’s 'Investigating Road Deaths' manual should be changed, e.g. 'Investigating Road Crashes', to reflect the fact that it covers serious as well as fatal injuries;
    • Investigating reports of seriously bad or aggressive driving even when no injury occurs and allocating sufficient resources to do so – after all, such drivers are often involved in other criminal activity; 
    • Investigating and where possible charging motorists who fail to stop with ‘leaving the scene of the accident’.
  • The police should facilitate collision and ‘near miss’ reporting (e.g. via online systems)
  • The victims of road crashes involving unlawful driving should be entitled to the same support services that other victims of crime receive.
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should take a more proactive line over work-related road safety and should receive adequate funds to do so.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
February 2014
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  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Gordon Seabright
  • 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
  • CTC Charitable Trust: A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.5125969. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1104324 and Scotland No SC038626

 

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