Safe Drivers and Vehicles

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'.
Royal Courts of Justice
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

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
RhiaWeston's picture

Road Justice petition handed to national policing lead for cycling

Road Justice campaigners and road crash victims handed over a petition calling for better roads policing this week to the national policing lead for cycling at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The petition, which has been signed by more than 12,000 people, is calling for the police to implement recommendations for better roads policing, which are outlined in a report produced for CTC’s Road Justice campaign.

The Road Justice campaign - sponsored by Slater & Gordon Lawyers - aims to get the criminal justice system to take a tougher approach to bad driving in order to make the roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Chris Peck's picture

CTC urges MPs to demand action and funding to ‘Get Britain Cycling’

CTC, the national cycling charity, has urged MPs to demand leadership, commitment to quality cycling conditions, and funding of at least £10 per person annually, to ‘Get Britain Cycling’ when giving evidence at today’s Commons Transport Select Committee inquiry on cycle safety.
Gordon Seabright, Chris Boardman and Roger Geffen

The inquiry was called following a horrific spate of 6 cyclists’ deaths in London within 13 days last November.

After submitting written evidence (see below), CTC was called by the committee to present oral evidence alongside British Cycling's spokeman Chris Boardman and AA President Edmund King.

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Roger Geffen's picture

Now send us your 'irresponsible' walking-down-the-street adverts!

Although the ASA has provisionally withdrawn its ruling against Cycling Scotland's TV advert, the fight isn't over yet. Please send us videos showing how a ban on helmet-free cycling in TV ads would be like refusing to show people on the streets at night without reflective clothing.
How many TV adverts breach Highway Code rule 3?

Thank you everyone for all the wonderful adverts you have sent us, containing lots of examples of deeply 'irresponsible' cycling (e.g. without helmets) - notably the famous Hovis adverts of the 1970s! Thank you too for your equally impressive collection of (quite genuinely) irresponsible car ads.

Chris Peck's picture

London bans lorries without safety equipment

The Mayor of London and London Councils have agreed jointly to ban large vehicles from London's roads if they fail to meet high standards for cycle safety equipment. CTC welcomes this step forward, but says there are better longer-term solutions for cycle safety that should be investigated too.
All lorries will be forced to have sideguards and extra mirrors

The move was announced today by the Mayor of London and London Councils - the representative body for the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London.

By working together, the ban can be effectively enforced on every street in London.

This could come into effect as early as September. 

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Chris Peck's picture

Which car ads show breaches of the Highway Code?

The ASA ruling that outlaws cyclists not wearing helmets and riding outside 'secondary position' is a very hazy interpretation of the Highway Code and cycle training expertise. If you've got examples of car ads that show Highway Code infringements by drivers, let us know and we'll collect them here.
A car ad involving driving around with flares was accepted by the ASA

We've already collected many examples of adverts that show cycling to be normal and aspirational, yet would fall foul of the ASA's latest ruling.

To help further Cycling Scotland's appeal, we'd also like to point to the many adverts for cars that show flagrant breaches of the Highway Code.

So let's get started

Chris Peck's picture

Which ads are now banned? Your examples wanted

The ASA's bizarre ruling (under appeal by Cycling Scotland) that all cyclists must now be helmeted and cyclists must adopt dangerous road positioning has caused anger amongst the cycling community. If you've got examples of ads that would now be banned, please send them here.
Unhelmeted hipsters riding all over a promenade. Tsk tsk.

The ASA's ruling is being appealed by Cycling Scotland. To help support that appeal, we'd like examples of advertising - print and broadcast - that show cycling as a normal activity, and which would therefore (theoretically) not be allowed.

To start you off, here is CTC's own cinema advert, 'Cycle Hero', made a few years ago to communicate the issue of climate change and suggest cycling as an alternative.

Roger Geffen's picture

Advertising watchdog’s helmet ruling threatens the promotion of normal cycling

CTC, the national cycling charity, has voiced concern over a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which could prevent future adverts from showing cyclists without helmets on TV.
The image that proved controversial to the ASA

In response to complaints against a TV advert produced by Cycling Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the ASA ruled that all future television advertising featuring cyclists must only show cyclists wearing helmets. 

The ASA also ruled that the cyclist's position on the road in the advert was unsafe. CTC believes this is at odds with UK-wide national standards for cycle training, which CTC was instrumental in developing, and which are now backed by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Cherry Allan's picture

Pedestrians

Even in crowded conditions, cyclists are perfectly able to mix harmoniously with pedestrians and, contrary to popular belief, they are not a major danger to them.
Cyclist and pedestrian sharing space
Headline Messages: 
  • Cyclists are perfectly able to mix harmoniously with pedestrians and, contrary to popular belief, are not a major danger to them.
  • Pedestrians are more likely to be injured or killed in collision with a motor vehicle than in collision with a cycle, even if they are walking on the verge or footway (pavement). This is all the more surprising because, unlike driving, most cycling takes place where there are high levels of pedestrian activity.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Cyclists should behave responsibly and within the law.
  • Cyclists do very little harm to other road users, including pedestrians.
  • Unlike driving, most cycling takes place in areas of high pedestrian activity, but it poses far less risk to pedestrians than motor vehicles. This is the case even for pavement cycling and red light jumping, neither of which CTC condones.
  • Cyclists and pedestrians are able to interact far more harmoniously, even in crowded conditions, than is often thought.
  • People who are frail or who suffer sensory or mobility impairments are often understandably reluctant to share space with cyclists. Trials, however, usually prove that cyclists very rarely put any pedestrian in a hazardous situation. Codes of practice - backed up as required by policing - are preferable solutions, rather than undermining the promotion of safe cycling for fear of the actions of a minority.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
January 2014
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