Tuesday 23 July 2013

Careless Driving Conviction

Earlier this year I went through a bad patch of cycle commuting. I had a number of incidents that really weren't nice. Unfortunately this meant that as much as I hate* doing it, and I do hate doing it, I had to report a few drivers to the police.

In fact this year I have reported four drivers. I've never reported four drivers in the one year. This is unusual. It is especially unusual as I have a higher threshold now for reporting than I used to have. It really does seem like the standards of driving are dropping. Whilst I'm not entirely sure why, I wonder if tightening finances are leading to more frustrated people/drivers.

One case is ongoing and is likely to be a long drawn out case. The driver did not turn up at the court to state their plea. They have been charged with dangerous driving. I'll let you know how that goes once it reaches a conclusion, if it ever does. Another case resulted in the driver receiving a warning. The fact that the driver only received a warning had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the policeman felt incredibly sorry for the poor old lady driver. She was very stressed by the whole thing apparently.

I wonder how stressed my family would be if she had hit me.

A third that I reported has......well, I'm not sure if anything has happened at all. The police came, took a statement and...I haven't heard anything since. I do need to chase it up, but it won't be easy as I forgot to take the officers badge number. They were, of course, supposed to get back to me...

The forth, has been significantly more successful. Watch the driver in question below.

It was a terrible piece of driving made all the worse by the fact that the driver lied and tried to blame me. The police decided to send this one to the Procurator Fiscal (PF) charged with Careless Driving.

Now, there is yet another blog in the future that will discuss the issues I have with the PF. I'll save that one for later. However, I eventually discovered that the driver had pleaded guilty to the charge at the first opportunity.

Why? Well, let's be honest here. Imagine I'd gone to the police without the helmet camera footage. Where would this have got to? Nowhere. At most the driver would have had a chat from the police where he would have protested his innocence. Having the footage, not only meant the police took an interest, but that the accused knew there was no point in denying the charge. The footage is very clear.

A short while later I managed to find out what punishment the driver was given.

£175 fine and 5 penalty points on his drivers licence.

I would not say I am happy with that. That would be wrong. I am not happy that the incident occured, I am not happy that I had to go to the police and to chase up the PF (yes, that'll be the subject of the future blog). I am also not happy that someone has had to receive a punishment. I take no joy out of that. What I am happy about is that that particular driver will think again in the future how he drives around cyclists. I'd be surprised if he would want to go through that again. 

What it also provides us with is a benchmark against which to compare future sentencing in similar cases. Yes, I know that every case is different and there may be mitigations, etc. However, it does provide a rough guide.

I've heard many cyclists calling for new criminal laws to be brought in to protect cyclists. I can understand that. However, I don't agree that we need new laws. What we need is the current laws to be correctly applied, and whilst that does occasionally happen, I think it did here, it needs to happen consistently.

What is clear from this episode, is that helmet camera footage works. I just look forward to the day we no longer need it.

*Why do I hate reporting drivers? Well, that's a story for another blog. For the moment I'll just say that, it isn't always easy to be taken seriously, either by the police or more frustratingly by the Procurator Fiscal.


  1. It's never "worked" for me.

    We have NO protection.


  2. Just today the police investigating the death of a motorbiker on the A82 said they want to speak to a van driver who was pulling a trailer, which immediately reminded me of this video. Just shows how seriously the police should be taking these kinds of incidents.

  3. How do the police accept your camera evidence?
    I video'd and reported a member of the public causing criminal damage and they refused to look at it. They said they could only use the CCTV or offical cameras, phots taken by the public without the persons permission can't be used.

  4. I significant obstacle here in West Yorkshire is that the police don't care whether cyclists live or die, and actively refuse to investigate this sort of thing, even when a number of corroborating witnesses come forward
    I wonder if they would accept camera footage?

  5. Is cyclimg between two lanes of traffic safe or legal? I find it risky enough cycling between the traffic and kerb.

  6. @Welshcyclist
    It is usually safer and filtering is legal, I find it hard to understand that as you are meant to be a cyclist you are unaware of this.