Safe Drivers and Vehicles

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'.
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

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
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
Cherry Allan's picture

Motorbikes

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. 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 those that might have this effect.
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 2014
Cherry Allan's picture

Cyclists' behaviour and the law

Cyclists should behave responsibly and legally, but the law should recognise that they do little harm and should not have to choose between keeping safe and obeying rules...
Cyclists
Headline Messages: 
  • Cyclists should behave responsibly and within the law. However, cyclists pose little risk to others.
  • Cyclists should not have to choose between acting legally and keeping safe (e.g. children prohibited from cycling on the footway even alongside busy roads). The law and those applying it should take this into account, as should the planning and design of the road network.
  • Whilst we encourage cyclists to undertake cycle training and to have insurance cover, making training or licences compulsory for cyclists is unworkable and would deter people from cycling occasionally or giving cycling a try. It would not solve any problems and the running costs would be prohibitive.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Cyclists, like all road users, should behave responsibly and within the law.
  • The enforcement of road traffic rules, and penalties for breaching them, should be proportionate to the potential danger imposed on other people, especially vulnerable road users. This principle also applies to off-road rights of way.
  • Road traffic rules should not put cyclists in situations where they feel they must choose between acting legally and protecting their own safety. Those responsible for making and enforcing the rules must take into account the reasons behind cyclists’ offending behaviour.
  • CTC does not condone unlawful cycling on pavement (footway). However, the police should exercise discretion in the use of fixed penalty notices for pavement cycling and discriminate between those whose behaviour is dangerous and antisocial and those who are acting out of concern for their own safety without presenting any threat to others.
  • The police and others charged with applying the law should be able to send offending cyclists on training programmes as an alternative to prosecution or fixed penalty notices.
  • Highway authorities should tackle any hazardous road conditions or poor design that may explain illegal behaviour by cyclists in certain locations.
  • A system of compulsory licensing and cycle training is unworkable and unjustifiable, not least because children have the same legal rights to cycle as adults and expecting them to hold licences is impractical. While the running costs would be high (i.e. similar to schemes that apply to motor vehicles and drivers), the benefits would be negligible, and the bureaucracy involved likely to seriously deter newcomers or occasional cyclists.
  • CTC does not actively support Critical Mass, but recognises the motivation of those involved.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
January 2014
CTC's picture

CTC launch iPhone 'Crash Kit' app

CTC, the national cycling charity, has launched an iPhone app to make it simpler to record vital details if you are involved in a cycling incident. Crashes rarely happen, but CTC's new kit is there for you, just in case.
CTC's Crash Kit on iPhone

Firstly, CTC is keen to point out that cycling helps keep people fit and that crashes are rare. In the event of an incident, however, CTC's new Crash Kit app will help you to be prepared for any legal action.

The app allows you to record all necessary information about the incident, including: witness contact details; third party contact and vehicle details; weather conditions; photos of the scene; equipment damage; any injuries; and the time, date and location via GPS.

You can then send the report directly to CTC’s solicitors, Slater & Gordon Lawyers.

Cherry Allan's picture

A thousand cyclists and pedestrians 'die-in' in London

On Friday evening, 29 November, a thousand people took part in a peaceful die-in and vigil outside Transport for London's offices. The message for the authorities was simple - help stop the killing of cyclists and pedestrians in London. CTC's Cherry Allan and Rhia Weston were there.
A thousand people joined the 'Stop Killing Cyclists' event in London

We were lying amongst prone bikes on the tarmac of a London road, in the dark, on a cold evening in November, gathered round a 'Stop Killing Cyclists' banner. A thousand other people were doing the same and 'protesting’ certainly described what we were doing - but not quite.

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