enforcement

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: 
  • A commitment from the police to tackle road crime plays a crucial role in protecting the public from bad driving.
  • The more traffic police there are and the more resources they have, the stronger the chance that bad drivers will be caught and brought to justice.
  • Well-trained traffic officers who investigate road collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians thoroughly can make all the difference to the likelihood of a successful prosecution. This, backed up by well-designed incident reporting systems and appropriate charging decisions, acts as a powerful deterrent against bad driving. 
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other agencies with road safety responsibilities also have an important part to play in enforcing road traffic law, and are as reliant as the police on adequate resourcing and good training.
Key facts: 
  • In France, a ‘zero tolerance’ policy over speeding offences, and substantial investment in safety cameras and road traffic policing, saw road deaths drop by 43% (2001–2007). 45% of French drivers have said that ‘fear of punishment’ made them change their behaviour.
  • Fewer breath tests lead to more drink-drive casualties and more people driving over the limit.
  • Traffic police levels in England and Wales fell by 37% from 2002/3-2013/14, from almost 7,000 uniformed officers down to just 4,356. During this time, total policing levels fluctuated a little from year to year, but not nearly to this degree: police officers in March 2014 numbered about 3.5% less than in 2003.
  • In 2014, just 3.4% of all the police in England and Wales exercised traffic responsibilities; in 2013/14, they recorded about 59% fewer ‘dangerous driving’ crimes than in 2002/03.
  • Evidence suggests that offence history and being at fault in a road crash is clearly linked.
  • The Health and Safety Executive’s role extends to work-related road travel; around a quarter of all road casualties in Great Britain involve a driver/rider who is at work at the time (or their passenger(s)).
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: 
March 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

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. They pose little risk to others, however.
  • Cyclists are often faced with the difficult choice of either acting legally or keeping safe. Children, for example, may feel safer cycling on the pavement alongside a busy, hostile road, but are in breach of the law if it hasn’t been converted to shared use. It is important that the law and those applying it take this into account. The planners and designers of the road network need to be mindful of this too.
  • Whilst CTC encourages 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 it a try. It would not solve any problems and the running costs would be prohibitive.
Key facts: 
  • In collisions involving cyclists in Great Britain, the police are around twice as likely to assign no ‘contributory factor(s)’ to them than to the driver/rider of the other vehicle;
  • In 2013 (GB), in collisions involving a cycle where the police assigned a contributory factor to a road user, they decided that just over 1% (187) of the cyclists ‘Disobeyed automatic traffic signal’ and around 2% (309) contributed by ‘Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility’;
  • With around 23 million people aged 5+ owning a bicycle in England, a licensing and compulsory training system for cyclists/cycles would be complex and very costly – not much less so than the current system for licensed drivers (almost 32 million) and private cars (over 24 million);
  • Mile for mile in urban areas from 2009-13 (GB), motor vehicles were more likely than a cycle to seriously injure a pedestrian, and over twice as likely to kill them;
  • The pavement or verge is not where most pedestrians are hit by a cycle: over the last 5 years in Britain, one out of the 14 incidents in which a pedestrian was killed in collision with a cycle happened on the pavement or verge. 
  • In London (1998-2007), just 4% of reported pedestrian injuries due to red-light-jumping involved cyclists - the other 96% were hit by red-light-jumping motor vehicles. Even on the city’s pavements, just 2% of reported pedestrian collisions involved cyclists, the other 98% involved motor vehicles.
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 pavements (footway). However, the police should exercise discretion in the use of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) 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 (FPNs).
  • 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 and occasional cyclists.
  • CTC does not actively support Critical Mass, but recognises the motivation of those involved.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
December 2014
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