The following is a letter I have just sent to the Procurator Fiscal office in relation to this incident.
I am writing to you with regards to the case against xxx xxx (PF No: xxx).
I attended court yesterday as a witness in this case, having attended court previously on the 17th July, where the case was delayed. Whilst waiting for the case to commence I was informed that the driver had pled guilty and that I was no longer required in court. Unfortunately the Court Clerk did not know what exact charge the driver had pled to, and did not know the sentencing. I therefore phoned the Procurator Fiscal office later that day.
After passing on my details over the phone the operator was able to inform me off the sentencing outcome, but for some reason was not allowed to tell me what the driver pled guilty to. I'm not sure why I could find out one, but not the other. I was informed I would need to write to you to find out any other information. I know Mr xxx was fined £150 and received 3 points. Can you tell me if this was in relation to careless or dangerous driving?
Going by the level of fine and points that Mr xxx received I can only assume that the charge was dropped to careless. Can I ask for you to please inform me of how the PF assigned to this case managed to justify accepting this?
I am not sure if your systems allow you to view footage on YouTube. If they do though, you can view the camera footage of the incident in question here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO0ghcWrbmU). As you will see from the footage, I was placed by this drivers actions, in significant danger and suffered significant distress. The van that Mr xxx passed me in missed my right arm with centimetres to spare, at high speed, with an oncoming HGV.
Firstly, taking into consideration section 2A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, could this driving not be considered dangerous? It is obvious to any 'competent driver' that this driving falls 'far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver'. Further, it certainly would be obvious to any competent driver that 'driving in this way would be dangerous'. Had his vehicle been a few centimetres further to the left, it would certainly have resulted in my serious injury or perhaps death. As a cyclist I have absolutely no crumple zone or roll cage to protect me.
I am sure that Mr xxx is an upstanding citizen, and this may indeed be the first time that Mr xxx has been charged with an offence, however the consequences of his actions, should his positioning have been only very slightly different, or should I have wobbled even slightly to my right, could have been very serious to myself, a husband and father of three. Why then did the PF agree to reduce the charge to careless (my assumption) considering the level of driving concerned, the very obvious danger that it represented and the very real effect that this could have had on my family?
Further to the above, having allowed for the charge to be dropped from dangerous to careless (again my assumption), why has the PF allowed for the sentencing to be almost as low as it is possible to be? Why for example, when a driver has clearly and of his own free will put another person at significant risk, at a level of very obviously dangerous driving, has the PF allowed the fine and the points applied to be at a level that is below mobile phone use, or a lack of insurance documents? Yes, the use of mobile phones whilst driving has significant potential to put other road users at risk, and so should be treated seriously, but how can this incident where I was ACTUALLY put at significant risk, and placed in a state of obvious distress, not be sentenced to at least a similar level?
One thing is clear from this sentencing is, that it is not in any way a deterrent. With sentencing consistent with this, a driver could put 4 cyclists at risk (and potential serious injury or death) before being considered for a driving ban. If you had a family member who cycled, would you consider that justice had been served in a case like this?
I think it is quite clear from what I have written above that this case and the outcome do not serve the public interest. Therefore, I would be very grateful if you could inform me of the reasoning behind the dropping of the charge (my assumption) and the level of the accepted fine and points.
I look forward to your detailed reply.
Dr David Brennan