Updated: One in ten collisions between car and bike in Scotland are prosecuted, investigation finds

Lack of prosecution fuels calls for 'presumed liability' laws in Scotland

by Sarah Barth   April 27, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A Scottish law firm representing cyclists has published new figures that show only one in ten collisions in which cyclists are hit by cars result in charges and a court case.

Only 44 of 400 reported incidents were prosecuted by one Scottish police force in 2012, and it’s unknown how many were successful.

Cycle Law Scotland, who are pushing for a ‘presumed liability’ law, putting the onus on a driver in a collision to prove the cyclist was at fault, have warned that a lack of police time could be at fault, meaning fewer cases are being passed to the procurator 

Kim Harding, from Pedal on Parliament, told the Scotsman: “These figures are shocking but not entirely surprising, you hear of people reporting things to the police and it’s not taken forward.

“I suspect it’s an issue of resources and the police are under-resourced and if you take it through to the PF they have to spend time in court and they would prefer people just swap insurance details.”

But Superintendent Iain Murray, head of roads policing for Police Scotland, insisted the force was “committed to reducing casualties and improving safety on the roads”.

According to Cycle Law Scotland, despite 9 cyclists being killed in 2012, and 902 injured on the roads in Scotland, Lothian & Borders Police submitted only 44 cases to the Procurator Fiscal, out of 400 recorded incidents; Highlands and Islands, 11 out of 47 incidents.

Brenda Mitchell, a Personal Injury lawyer and founder of the Road Share campaign for presumed liability, said: “One of the arguments often used against a system of presumed liability for vulnerable road users is that the existing criminal law provides all the protection a cyclist or pedestrian needs.

“If drivers are regularly prosecuted for careless driving offences where cyclists have been injured, it might alter driver behaviours and at the same time protect cyclists. But these figures suggest that this simply is not the case.”
Thousands of cyclists rode to Holyrood in protest today,  campaigning for improved funding and better infrastructure. The ride from the Meadows in Edinburgh ended at the Scottish Parliament, where speeches were made.

The Pedal on Parliament group has an eight-point manifesto asking for cycling to be integrated into local transport strategies and improved road traffic law and enforcement.

At Holyrood, the speeches were opened by Kyle Thomas aged11, who said: "I believe cycling is the future for Scotland.

"Cycling down the high street I thought to myself that this is how cycling should be, there wasn’t a single car on the road but lots of cyclists as it should be."

Lynne McNicoll, stepmother of Andrew McNicoll, killed cycling to work in Edinburgh in 2012, said: " was at the first Pedal on Parliament and to see so many more people attending today is just fantastic.

"I’m here because I don’t want anyone else to feel the way we feel every day since Andrew was killed on his bike."

Chris Oliver from Road Share, the campaign run by Cycle Law Scotland said: "Presumed liability is a big ask but we need to protect the vulnerable road users, not just cyclists but pedestrians.

"Please look at what we’re asking for and support our campaign."

8 user comments

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They shelved the vote didn't they?

Also...when I came to read the story...this ad came up, do we really have to see them on here aswell as almost every tv station and website??

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
26th April 2014 - 21:34

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It gets worse.....

I adjusted my ad choice settings months ago so I should only get charity ad's.....it seems not to work

[I'm sorry that this is distracting from the article, but can we PLEASE block these type of ads]

claim 2.jpg claim 3.jpg
Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
26th April 2014 - 23:40

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At least some prosecutions are happening. I got run over a good few years ago, by a guy desperate to get to the bank before it closed. My bike was a pancake, and I had a busted elbow, and my right leg went lots of different colours for around 5 months. Despite the Police showing up, and the guy trying to leave the scene to get to the bank, and being restrained by bystanders, the fact that I wasn't dead seemed to be the end of it. Despite trying, nothing ever came of it, I was off work for 3 weeks, and had to buy a new bike out of my own pocket.

Small steps are fine by me, as long as they are going forward.

icam1968's picture

posted by icam1968 [9 posts]
27th April 2014 - 0:14

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How will presumed liability help? That's only for civil liability - it makes no difference to the police's incompetence or otherwise.

posted by racyrich [117 posts]
27th April 2014 - 16:14

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1) Gkam

Adblock plus?

Its free and you never have to read about PPI / injured in accidents that were not you fault ever again...

2) Racyrich presumed liability is for civil cases only but this would help icam1968 in the above example as it would be up to the driver that hit him to prove that they were not at fault.
If they were unable to do this it would have allowed icam 1968 to claim damages for a new bike and time off work from the insurer of the car driver that hit him.
Compare this with icam1968's account of not getting anywhere, taking 3 weeks off work and having to buy a new bike and you see the difference this legislation would have.

Now imagine this was for a more serious incident where a cyclist or pedestrian was KSI and unable to work - strict liability could be the difference between a victim being able to continue to pay their mortgage or provide for their family due to swifter civil proceedings.

posted by paulmcmillan [78 posts]
27th April 2014 - 20:10

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Well yes, strict liability would help the claim mentioned in the comments. It would not change that only 10% of the collisions are prosecuted, which was rather the point of the article.

posted by racyrich [117 posts]
27th April 2014 - 20:34

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I agree it would not increase the % of police prosecutions.

Where I think we disagree is over interpretation of the point of the article.

When I read the article my interpretation is that the argument is:
strict liability has a role in protecting vulnerable road users (in a civil capacity) because of the low % of collisions being dealt with in a criminal way.

In other words the point of the article is not that strict (civil) liability would itself change the % of criminal prosecutions, but that the low % of criminal prosecutions is itself evidence that strict (civil) liability is needed to protect the vulnerable road users, as they are not being protected under criminal law.

posted by paulmcmillan [78 posts]
27th April 2014 - 20:44

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there are ads on here?

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.


posted by themartincox [337 posts]
28th April 2014 - 10:34

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