CTC Road Justice News

A ride to remember Sam, and that some 'accidents' can be avoided

Wed, 26 Jul 2017, 10:39am
On Friday evening, cyclists in Leicester will be thinking about Sam Boulton as they gather for a ride to remember an inspirational teacher, whose life was cut short when a car door was opened in front of him, knocking him off his bicycle and into the path of a passing van. With another bereaved family repeating calls for car-dooring to be taken seriously Cycling UK's Duncan Dollimore says it's time for cross-party action from MPs to stop avoidable tragedies being trivialised as 'accidents'. samboultonpainting_web.jpg Ride for Sam 2017

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Roads, horses, pollution...and cycling

Fri, 7 Jul 2017, 11:19am
The Government’s contradictory plans for tacking air pollution and investing in roads have both hit the news this week. They were debated in Parliament too, as was equestrian safety. Cycling UK made sure cycling got mentioned in three debates on successive days. air_pollution.jpg

The Government evidently didn't want to publish its third attempt at a draft Air Quality Strategy just before the general election.  Although a previous court ruling had set a publication deadline of 24th April, Ministers went back to court as soon as the election was called, seeking permission to delay it till June.

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The legal framework and sentencing policy

Tue, 4 Jul 2017, 5:09pm
The legal framework and sentencing for driving offences need to reinforce the message that endangering other road users is unacceptable. steering_wheel.jpg 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.
  • Driving a car 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, and one that has yet to be solved effectively.
  • Society expects high safety standards in various aspects of our lives where there are inherent risks – e.g. rail and air travel, in workplaces or on construction sites – and the law creates strong obligations to avoid or minimise the risks. However, there is a different culture on the roads. Lapses there are regularly dismissed merely as ‘accidents’ or ‘carelessness’ rather than something that is avoidable. Likewise, the penalties seem to reflect the attitude that the absence of care and the resultant collisions are inevitable.
  • 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.
Key facts: 
  • In Great Britain, from 2011-15, under 2% of all trip stages were made by cycle, but cyclists represented around 6% of fatalities and 14% of serious injuries.
  • Over the same period, c.84% of cyclists’ road fatalities reported by the police happened in crashes involving a motor vehicle.
  • Between 2005 and 2016 in England and Wales, the number of people disqualified from driving directly by the courts dropped from 155,484 to just 62,822 – a fall of 60%.
  • In 2016, 90% of drivers sentenced for killing another road user were directly disqualified by the courts, compared to 96% in 2005 (100% were banned in 2006 and 2008).
  • In January 2017, there were 9,909 drivers still able to drive even though they had amassed 12 points or more on their licence increases, even though those who accumulate this number automatically face disqualification.
  • For dangerous driving with a fatal outcome, the maximum sentence is 14 years; for both dangerous driving that causes a serious injury, and causing death by ‘careless’ driving, the maximum prison sentence is five years. 
Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy):  Legal framework
  • The legal framework should make it clear that it is unacceptable to endanger and intimidate other road users. This is particularly important for cyclists and pedestrians because they are disproportionately likely to be the victims of road crashes.
  • The current legal definitions for ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving have led to confusion, inconsistency and injustice. As a result, too many drivers who have obviously and evidently caused ‘danger’ are convicted of ‘careless’ rather than ‘dangerous’ driving due to confusion over the standard of driving to be applied. As a result, they may receive derisory penalties, or are acquitted altogether.
  • The definitions of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving should therefore be revised, along with the available penalties as part of the Government’s ongoing review of driving offences and penalties.
  • To eliminate the element of subjectivity when determining how far a driver has fallen short of the standards expected of a careful and competent driver, their driving should be measured against a clear, objective standard. This could be based, for example, around the standard required to pass the driving test, which should surely be the minimum expected of a careful driver.
  • Prosecution guidelines should be amended to reflect the above.
Sentencing policy
  • The underlying principle of sentencing must be that road crime is treated as real crime, and not minimised as mere ‘traffic offences’.
  • Whether a seriously injured victim happens to survive or die makes too much difference to the sentences available. Instead, sentencing should primarily reflect the standard of driving, rather than its outcome.
  • Too often, discussions on how the justice system should penalise offending drivers centre on custodial sentences. This neglects the value of driving bans both as a penalty and as a means to protect the public:
    • Driving bans should be more widely used as a penalty and to ensure that those who cause danger are not allowed to driver again until they can prove they can do so safely.
    • Those who appear to have driven recklessly or with intent to cause danger should still normally receive prison sentences, as should repeat offenders, particularly those who have breached past driving bans. Long-term or lifetime disqualification should also be the norm in such cases.
  • Banned drivers, especially those who drive professionally, should be retested before regaining their licence.
  • The courts should be given the power to impose driver retraining as a sanction for convicted drivers.
  • The definition of ‘exceptional hardship’ should be revised to prevent the routine use of this defence by drivers seeking to avoid driving bans.
  • An offence of causing serious injury or death by car-dooring should be introduced, with much tougher penalties than fines.
  • The Government’s ongoing review of driving offences and penalties should include all the above proposals.
  • Fines in serious or fatal cases can trivialise the seriousness of the offence, particularly when the fine is small.
  • The above proposals should be reflected in revisions to sentencing guidelines.
Download full campaigns briefing:  Legal framework and sentencing policy Publication Date:  July 2017

Prosecutors and courts

Tue, 4 Jul 2017, 4:52pm
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'. courts_of_justice_and_bike_cropped.png Headline Messages: 
  • Injuries to cyclists rarely lead to the prosecution of the driver involved and, when they do, all too often the incident seems to be dismissed or minimised as “just one of those things”. This reinforces fears that the roads are lawless, dangerous places for cycling and walking.
    One of the reasons behind this is the difficulty faced by prosecutors and courts when trying to interpret and apply the law consistently. There is also a cultural tendency to dismiss driving that caused obviously foreseeable danger as ‘careless’, rather than deeming it ‘dangerous’. 

Key facts: 
  • In law, dangerous driving falls not just “below”, but “far below” the standard that would be expected of a “competent and careful driver”; it should also “… be obvious to a competent and careful driver” that the driving would give rise to “danger either of injury to any person or of serious damage to property”. Hence the distinction between “dangerous” and “careless” driving is not about the state of mind of the driver (i.e. whether what they did was intentional), but whether their driving objectively caused obviously foreseeable danger.
  • The number of people who are killed in road crashes far exceeds the number of drivers who are convicted for causing death by driving. In 2015, there were 1,568 road deaths in England and Wales, but only 122 people convicted of ‘causing death by dangerous driving’, and 176 of ‘causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving’.
  • Between 1990 and 2015, counting principal offences alone, the number of people taken to court in England and Wales for causing death or serious injury by driving, or of dangerous or careless driving fell by c72%, with a c77% drop in convictions.  It is unlikely that a drop on this scale reflects better driving standards. Even though the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) declined by c62% over this same period, this is still significantly less than the decline in the number of people proceeded against or found guilty of bad driving offences.  
Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy): 
  • The prosecution of bad drivers needs to 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.
  • Drivers who cause injury or death through reckless behaviour should not be treated more leniently than those who do so through reckless behaviour associated with 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 tend to 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’ consistently and correctly. Prosecution policy and guidelines should provide clearer advice on these charges and be drafted accordingly.
  • 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 should be irrelevant to the charging decision whether or not the driver meant to cause harm and a ‘dangerous’ charge should be brought.
  • Manslaughter or assault charges should be seriously considered 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. Not seeing what is there to be seen is clearly below the standard to be expected of a competent and careful driver.
  • 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.
  • Juries should be clearly directed not just on the definitions of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving, but also on the Highway Code as it relates to the standard of driving to be expected.
  • Courts should make greater use of driving bans, and not routinely let drivers keep their licence on pleas of ‘exceptional hardship’, i.e. the predictable consequences of their offending behaviour.
  • Courts should seriously consider the impact that the sentences they pass may have on the victim of the crime, to make sure that it does not demean their suffering. Whilst Cycling UK 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 and protect other road users by considering substantial driving bans.
  • Courts should be careful to avoid the appearance of ‘victim-blaming’ when directing juries in criminal cases. For example, if a driver has failed to see a cyclist, whether or not the cyclist was wearing a helmet is irrelevant.
  • Coroners should have sufficient understanding of the Highway Code and road safety issues relating to cycling, so that they can ask witnesses relevant questions and/or permit relevant questions to be asked during inquest hearings.
  • Coroners should be more willing to write ‘Preventing Further Deaths’ reports in road traffic cases to highlight actions needed to prevent future road fatalities.
Download full campaigns briefing:  Prosecutors and courts Publication Date:  July 2017

"My Government will" - do nothing about this

Fri, 23 Jun 2017, 9:18am
Three years since it was first promised, three Justice Secretaries later, nine thousand consultation responses, a two-year legislative programme, but we are still waiting for new legislation on road traffic offences and penalties. As the Queen announces what the Government will do in the next two years, Duncan Dollimore explains that there is silence on the promise to tackle bad driving and improve road safety. 3098344728_6393a0b2b0_b.jpg Woeful Wednesday

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Cycling UK's reaction to the Queen’s Speech

Wed, 21 Jun 2017, 4:47pm
Following the official opening of this extended Parliament of two years with the Queen’s Speech in House of Lords today (Wednesday 21 June), Cycling UK has given its overall reaction to the proposed Bills and measures which will have a direct impact on cycling. vh_parliament_3.jpg

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Cycling UK Policy Director Roger Geffen MBE said:

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org 

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org

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Taxi driver convicted in ‘car-dooring’ incident which caused cyclist death

Mon, 5 Jun 2017, 2:00pm
Farook Yusuf Bhikhu convicted in a case relating to the death of Leicester teacher Sam Boulton loughborough.jpg

At Loughborough Magistrates Court today (Monday, 5 June), Farook Yusuf Bhikhu was convicted of the offence of ‘car-dooring’, bringing the end to criminal proceedings related to the death of cyclist Sam Boulton.

Mr Bhikhu was handed a £955 fine, broken down as £300 for the offence, a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs. This is to be paid in £20 weekly instalments.  

Cycling UK Press Office
Email: publicity@cyclinguk.org
Telephone: 0844-736-8453

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. For further in depth commentary on the relevant hearings and car-dooring, see Cycling UK blog by Duncan Dollimore
  3. The passenger, Ms Chapple, pleaded guilty to the crime of car-dooring on 3 March 2017, and was handed a £150 fine, broken down as £80 for the offence, a £40 victim surcharge and £30 court costs.
  4. 'Car-dooring' is a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Section 42 Road Traffic Act 1988. See also http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/the-law-for-cyclists-hit-by-vehicle-doors. However, this offence is only punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and no penalty points can be imposed on the offender’s licence.  
  5. There were 561 reported collisions where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police in 2015. See table RAS50005 of Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2015.  
  6. Cycling UK has made the case for adequate sentencing for car-dooring offences in their response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the review of road traffic offences and penalties. 
  7. For further information on the Dutch Reach and Cycling UK’s position see Cycling UK blog by Sam Jones
  8. Cyclist Sam Harding was killed in August 2012  when driver Kenan Aydogdu opened his car door in front of him on London's Holloway Road. Given that this was not a 'driving offence', and the maximum penalty for car-dooring was only £1,000, the Crown Prosecution Service brought a 'manslaughter' prosecution against him, but he was acquitted despite his windows being coated with dark plastic film, reducing visibility in and out of the car to 17% of their normal level. He was fined £200 for the car-dooring offence.
  9. Cyclist Robert Hamilton was killed in January 2014, when driver Joanne Jackson opened the driver’s door of her car in front of him as he was cycling along Linaker Street in Southport. Jackson was prosecuted for a car-dooring offence and fined £305.

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Driver to face trial in Sam Boulton dooring case

Wed, 31 May 2017, 3:04pm
Twenty six year old inspirational teacher Sam Boulton died last year in a car dooring incident. With the private hire driver's trial due to start next week, Duncan Dollimore looks at what needs to be done to make sure that dooring is taken seriously, and drivers are made aware of the dangers. 4984060658_1e2fea3c8a_z.jpg

Sam Boulton was a young man described by the pupils he taught as an inspirational teacher. Tragically, a life full of promise was cut short last year on his 26th birthday as Sam cycled past Leicester train station.

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Our Lawless Roads

Thu, 11 May 2017, 10:01am
'Our Lawless Roads' is the detailed report the national road victims' charity RoadPeace published yesterday which calls for a reversal in the cuts to traffic police numbers. With falling prosecutions, increased numbers of drivers failing to stop after collisions, and deliberately aggressive driving on the increase, Cycling UK believes we need visible roads policing to ensure offenders fear the consequences if they're caught. Duncan Dollimore looks into Our Lawless Roads. 4984060658_1e2fea3c8a_z.jpg Crunching the statistics

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“Road safety agenda for next Government set by Parliamentary report” says Cycling UK

Tue, 2 May 2017, 9:12am
Cycling UK today (Tuesday, 02 May) welcomes the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group report ‘Cycling and the Justice System’ which identifies the loophole which every year allows over 8,500 drivers with 12 points or more on their licences to continue driving and calls for it to be closed. samjones_distracted-driving-posed_2016.jpg

The report contains 14 recommendations for action, predominantly for Government or the police, necessary to reduce danger on our roads for cyclists and other road users, and improve the response of the justice system. 

Cycling UK Press Office
Email: publicity@cyclinguk.org
Telephone: 0844-736-8453

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org  
  2. The APPCG’s  ‘Cycling and the Justice System’ is available for download at: https://allpartycycling.org/inquiries/justice/   
  3. Ministry of Justice figures show that the number of people disqualified from driving fell from 155,484 to 58,715 in 2015. At the same time, the number of people convicted of dangerous driving fell by 30%; careless driving by 36% and drink driving by 48%. From Ministry of Justice (2015) Criminal Justice Statistics, cited in RoadPeace (2016) Driving Bans in Court.  
  4. There are multiple reasons why drivers may be able to drive with 12 or more points on their licence, including: a) having successfully appealed for leniency in the courts, b) awaiting summons to court, c) through administrative error on the part of the police or courts. 
  5. Section 35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 provides that drivers who accrue 12 or more penalty points on their licence within a three year period must be disqualified for a minimum period of 6 months (totting up disqualification). The court can however decide not to disqualify, or disqualify for a shorter period, in cases where disqualification would cause exceptional hardship. 
  6. Cyclist Lee Martin was killed in a collision caused by driver Christopher Gard who was texting as he drove in August 2015 on the A31 near Bentley. Gard was jailed for 9 years at Winchester Crown Court in September 2016 and disqualified from driving for 14 and a half years. http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2016-09-05/texting-driver-jailed-after-causing-cyclists-death/  
  7. For a detailed analysis of the APPCG’s report see Cycling UK website from 8am 02 May or contact Cycling UK press office: https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/duncandollimore/appcg-blog  

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Parliamentary group reports on cycling and the justice system

Tue, 2 May 2017, 9:07am
The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's report on cycling and the justice system was published today, with fourteen recommendations to reduce danger and ensure justice. It won't change things overnight, but Duncan Dollimore explains why Cycling UK welcomes the report, and how the recommendations can be used within Road Justice campaigning. 4984060658_1e2fea3c8a_z.jpg

In January, I wrote a blog welcoming the inquiry into cycling and the justice system being undertaken by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG). Over 200 individuals and organisations including Cycling UK had submitted written evidence to the APPCG, who then heard oral evidence from 22 witnesses over the following two months.

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Common driving offences

Fri, 28 Apr 2017, 9:51am
Tackling common, bad driving offences effectively would help create a safer and more attractive environment for cycling and walking. (This briefing covers: speeding, drink/drug driving, mobile phone use, driving without entitlement). driver-training-testing_.jpg Headline Messages: 

Penalising bad driving offences effectively would help create a safer and more attractive environment for cycling and walking. In particular, the drink/drive limit should be lowered in England and Wales, and hands-free mobile phones banned.

Note: 'Common Driving Offences' is one of a series of Cycling UK briefings covering various aspects of traffic law and enforcement. Others consider bad driving in the context of the legal framework in general and specific aspects of it including sentencing, prosecution, the courts, the vital role of the traffic police, and driver training, testing and licencing (forthcoming).

Key facts: 
  • Speeding: From 2011-15 (GB), around a quarter of road deaths and 15% of KSIs (killed or seriously injured) occurred in collisions where the police believed that 'exceeding the speed limit' or 'travelling too fast for conditions' was a contributory factor. In 2015, 84% cars exceeded the speed limit on 20 mph roads (47% by 5 mph or more), while 52% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30 mph roads, even though 89% of people believe that drivers should obey limits.
  • Drink/Drug driving: In 2014 (GB), 14% of all road fatalities (240 people) happened in incidents where a driver was over the limit. In December 2014, Scotland cut its drink-drive limit to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood, bringing it in line with most EU countries except for England, Wales and Malta where the limit is still 80mg/100ml. In 2015 (GB), the police thought that a driver/rider being ‘impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)’ was a contributory factor in incidents in which 67 people were killed, and 350 seriously injured.
  • Mobiles/other distractions: In 2015 (GB), the police thought: that mobile phone use at the wheel contributed to collisions in which 22 people died and 99 were seriously injured; and that ‘distraction in vehicle’ contributed to collisions in which 66 people died and 504 were seriously injured. Drivers are four times more likely to crash when using a mobile phone. Over two thirds of the population feel that the law on using a mobile phone whilst driving is not properly enforced.
  • Entitlement: The Motor Insurers’ Bureau settles around 25,000 claims a year made by innocent victims of uninsured/untraced drivers, including c.120 fatal cases. The risk of crash involvement for un-licenced drivers could range between 2.7 to 8.9 times greater than that for all drivers.
Cycling UK View (formal statement of Cycling UK's policy): 

Exceeding the speed limit

  • Speeding fines are currently too low to have any significant impact on driver behaviour.
  • Extreme speed (e.g. 20 mph+ over the limit) should be treated as dangerous driving in the first instance.
  • There should be no margin over the speed limit at which a driver avoids penalty.
  • When determining the severity of any speeding offence and the penalties for it, the presence (or likely presence) of vulnerable road users should be considered as aggravating factors. 

Drink/drug driving

  • The drink-drive blood alcohol limit should be lowered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 80mg/100ml to not more than 50mg/100ml, in line with most European countries and Scotland. Novice drivers should not be allowed to drink at all before driving.
  • We support the use of targeted checkpoints, but also believe that the police should be given more freedom to carry out random breath testing.
  • Alcohol interlocks should be fitted in offenders’ vehicles. If successful, the measure should be extended. 
  • The definitions and standards for drug-related driving offences should relate solely to whether a drug impairs the ability to drive; it should not relate to whether it is legal to use it - i.e. over-the-counter and prescription drugs should be included.

Mobile phones and other in-car distractions

  • Use of hands-free mobile phones whilst driving should be banned.
  • More research needs to be done on the impact of other in-car distractions (e.g. SatNavs, radios, in-car computers etc.). Drivers who put others in danger because they have been distracted by such devices need to be appropriately penalised.

Driving without entitlement

  • Any driver convicted of a bad driving offence whilst unlicensed or disqualified, and those who persistently break driving bans or go on driving despite not being entitled to do so for some reason, should receive a custodial sentence for the crime.  
Download full campaigns briefing:  Common driving offences Publication Date:  March 2017
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  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cycling UK is a trading name of Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no: 25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales charity no: 1147607 and in Scotland charity no: sco42541. Registered office: Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 9JX.