Liability in collisions should lie with the biggest vehicle - Vote

by Recumbenteer   July 2, 2010  

Vote for Cyclists' rights. Vote for liability in a collision to reside automatically with the bigger vehicle, just like in Holland.

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8 user comments

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Bigger vehicle drivers do need to be careful but accidents do happen and some cyclists cause it by undertaking lorries...but they never use their curbside mirrors.

I do think there should be more consideration by all road users for each other.

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [329 posts]
10th July 2010 - 15:22


It's worth noting that that *isn't* how the law works in Europe. It's not about blame: there's an entirely separate concept, that of operating risk. Basically driving a lorry/bus/car is dangerous to cyclists/pedestrians whether you do it well or badly; if there's a collision, for whatever reason, then they come off worse, so you're insured (as a legal requirement) against that risk.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7702 posts]
10th July 2010 - 15:26

1 Like

On the way home from work on my motorbike a few weeks ago I had to swerve to avoid a guy drinking from a can of strong lager who bumped off the pavement and darted across the road in front of me, never once bothering to look and believe me, you can hear my motorbike coming. If we'd collided it would have been his fault for riding stupidly. Please explain to me why I'd have to risk my clean licence and no claims bonus for someone like him?

Insurance liability should lie with the offender.


posted by OldRidgeback [2458 posts]
10th July 2010 - 21:04


Under most European legislation, you wouldn't. He'd be breathalysed and blamed for the accident. But if he ended up paralysed because of the accident, he'd receive money from your insurers regardless of blame because part of your premium would be paid for operating risk, not liability.

That's how I understand it anyway. Anyone got any direct experience?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7702 posts]
10th July 2010 - 21:47

1 Like

I had a similar discussion on FB, and a Dutch friend chimed in:
(Dutch mate)
Whenever you switch on the engine of your car you must remember that you're handling potentially lethal equipment and are responsible for the injuries caused" ... that's the first thing we are taught in Holland when studying for the driving test. Unfortunately too many people forget this. The law here is now such that in an accident involving a motorist and a non-motorist, the motorist is automatically liable for the resulting injuries, even if he's not to blame for the accident, unless - if i recall it right - the car was stationary. Combined with bicycle lanes this ensures very few serious bicycle accidents in the country wth the highest bicycle density in Europe. Similar rules apply to bikes hitting pedestrians Smile
07 July at 16:39
(British mate)
That's the point - if a cyclist performs a manouvere that as a result causes his accident because he has 1. not followed the laws of the road 2. Not indicated in any way to other road users what he's doing 3. Operated his transport in an irrational manner and in all three of these cases the motorist has tried to avoid the accident because of the behaviour of another road user - surely logically he should not be made responsible for that accident?? That's the same as me operating machinery ignoring the safety guard getting my hand chopped off then suing the employer. To always blame a motorist for an accident even if it wasn't his fault is crazy.
07 July at 18:56
(Dutch mate replies)
You didn't pick up on the subtlety: the bicycle rider is indeed responsible for the accident, however the motorist is liable for the injury. As a result both are punishable and will take due care. If the motorist doesn't like this he shouldn't ignite the engine of his potentially lethal equipment. To drive a car and hence manage a potentially lethal tool is a privilege, not a right.

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
12th July 2010 - 12:42


To drive a car and hence manage a potentially lethal tool is a privilege, not a right.

This is the bit many UK drivers have a problem with - their responsibility towards others on the road.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2220 posts]
12th July 2010 - 12:55

1 Like

I definately agree with Liability in collisions should lie with the biggest vehicle -

When it comes to Aeroplanes.

I haven't driven for a while, soon as I'm in the car I reaslise why I love riding, drivers don't stick to the speed limit, drive badly and always angry and stick to your bumper-I ignore it but I prefer to use my bike.

If only it didn't get so cold or rain so much- emmigrate to Dubai? Wink

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [329 posts]
13th July 2010 - 16:34


Luckily I have not been involved in an incident with another roaduser that resulted in injury or damage (touch wood!). However, earlier this year I was cycling with a friend when a car came out of a side road and hit him head on. Luckily the driver was not travelling very fast. However my friend hit the road hard and shattered (not just broke) his collarbone. This put him in hospital and has meant several months' slow recovery.

In the meantime he was also required (with the services of a solicitor recommended by the London Cycling Campaign) to pursue a case against the driver and his insurer. It was my friend who had to make the case that the driver was at fault and therefore should be liable to pay compensation for the damage and injury.

So far, so what? you are probably thinking. This is how it always works. But that is the problem. The default situation in the UK is that the driver has not contributed to the crash and that their insurance is not automatically liable. It was down to my friend, injured and in pain to make the case that the driver was at fault and his insurance should pay. In cases like this it is down to the injured party and usually the more vulnerable to do the work to make the case.

What would it be like if it was the other way round? How would the driver behave if he knew that if he hit a more vulnerable roaduser he would be the one that had to make the case that he was not at fault rather than leaving it all to the injured person? Might he not think more carefully about his actions as he operated his dangerous machinery? Might he, in the incident with my friend, have looked more carefully as he came out of the side road?

Somebody up the thread makes the point about operating machinery in a work place. In that case you know the machinery is dangerous so you take the proper safeguards - you don't remove the safety guard. Unfortunately we seem to have forgotten that cars are also dangerous machinery and unfortunately many times the person who is injured is not the person operating the machinery (driving the car) it is someone else, usually someone with less protection than a seat belt, airbags and front and rear crumple zones - someone like a pedestrian or a cyclist.

This is not about criminal blame - a driver will not go to prison if he or she hits a person who bunnyhops off the kerb or jumps a red light. Or not without the due process of law. It is about reminding people that cars are dangerous pieces of machinery and not extensions of your living room and they need to be operated with due care and attention to other more vulnerable roadusers.

posted by CotterPin [64 posts]
13th July 2010 - 17:51