IAM poll highlights extent of SMIDSY problem

Nine out of ten riders who responded said they had been cut up by another road user who didn't see them during past six months

by Simon_MacMichael   April 16, 2012  

road.cc news

Road safety charity IAM says that nearly nine in ten cyclists (88 per cent) say that within the past six months they have been cut up by another road user who did not look properly, according to the results of its latest poll. It adds that almost all cyclists – 95 per cent – who took part in the poll said that over the same period they had needed to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

The IAM says that the findings reflect the huge problem of SMIDSY – “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you” – motorists, already the subject of the Stop SMIDSY campaign from national cyclists’ organisation, CTC.

The results of the IAM poll do need to be treated with some caution, since they do not reflect a random sample of cyclists, but rather ones who for whatever reason have found their way to the charity's website and then decided to respond to the survey, which could for example result in those who have been involved in a near miss recently being more likely to participate.

However, the findings are published at a time when the issue has become particularly topical as a result of three recent court cases involving the death of cyclists and in which the drivers concered claimed not to have the victims, each citing the sun being in their eyes as a potential cause of the incident.

In each of those cases, which followed the deaths of Group Captain Tomas Barrett, killed as he rode home from work, record-breaking cyclist Pat Kenny, out training, and Karl Austin, who was taking part in a time trial, the drivers concerned admitted causing death by dangerous driving; none of them received a custodial sentence.

According to analysis carried out by IAM contained in its Licensed to Skill report, published last year, failure to look is a factor in 29 per cent of serious road traffic incidents and 36 per cent of less serious ones. It is the second most common contributory factors in ones that result in a fatality, found in 21 per cent of those.

Its latest research found that 89 per cent of cyclists blamed the other road user for not paying sufficient attention, and 90 per cent say that the only way to improve the situation is to increase motorists’ awareness of cyclists.

Around half of cyclists – 52 per cent – said that they had been involved in a near miss at a junction, and 45 per cent highlighted left-turn junctions specifically. Some 73 per cent of near misses took place in 30mph zones.

IAM chief executive Simon Best commented: “SMIDSY moments are happening far too often, and very few people are prepared to take responsibility for their part in them. It’s always someone else’s fault. All road users need to be more aware of who they are sharing the road with, and the risks they present.

“Other road users’ intentions can often be guessed by their body language and position on the road, so ride defensively, and leave room so that if somebody does do something unexpected, you have time to deal with it.”

While issues such as distracted, innatentive or speeding drivers, or ones who pass too close or cut in to turn left are clearly out of a cyclist’s hands, the IAM concluded by outlining its safety advice to bike riders to help do as much as they can personally to minimise risks while riding on the road. That advice is:

  • Always assume a driver hasn’t seen you, and try to make eye contact
  • Be prepared to stop or change direction, should another road user pull out on you, or behave unexpectedly
  • Never ride up the inside of HGVs, and when you are riding behind make sure you can see their mirrors. If you can’t see their mirrors, then they can’t see you
  • Wear high-viz clothing and use lights to make yourself more visible
  • Don’t pass parked cars too close, in case someone opens a car door
  • In the summer months, bright sunlight will make it a lot harder for motorists to see you.

11 user comments

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There's a shocker - the advice from the Institute of Advanced *Motoring* is for cyclists to work to avoid the problem

Once again the Bull in the China Shop is ignored

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [555 posts]
16th April 2012 - 8:54

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Fair point that the advice focused on what cyclists could do, not drivers. But if you look at the IAM website, they produce a lot of reports etc focusing on unsafe driving including many of the issues regularly highlighted here such as speed, use of mobiles etc and they do outline what drivers should and shouldn't be doing.

If everyone drove to the standards they suggest, the roads would be a better place for everyone, irrespective of mode of transport.

I think in this case, because it was a cycling-specific release, it was cyclists they focused on, and as they said in a previous release that we reported on, while "a lack of awareness on the part of some motorists is no doubt a huge factor in car/bike collisions, it pays for the cyclist as the more vulnerable road user to ride to be seen where possible.”

http://road.cc/content/news/15646-iam-urges-cyclists-claim-their-lane

So I don't think it's ignoring the issue, it's more a case of providing advice as to what we us cyclists can do to minimise the risks that are there, and it is all sound advice that not every cyclist heeds.

Also, yes, it may have originally been the Institute of Advanced Motoring as you say, but nowadays it positions itself as a road safety charity, it has a specific membership category for cyclists and provides cycle training.

http://www.iam.org.uk/cyclist

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8250 posts]
16th April 2012 - 10:47

4 Likes

Yes, fair play to IAM… although it does have to be said that it's hard for a cyclist to make eye contact or guess the intentions of a driver coming at you from behind and passing too close and/or cutting in abruptly to turn left.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4147 posts]
16th April 2012 - 13:08

5 Likes

Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Also, yes, it may have originally been the Institute of Advanced Motoring as you say, but nowadays ... it ... provides cycle training.

http://www.iam.org.uk/cyclist

From the site:

"Click on the video clip below to learn more about the benefits of IAM Cycling from Vicki Butler-Henderson"

Ah yes, that champion of bicycling... Big Grin

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3314 posts]
16th April 2012 - 13:47

7 Likes

Yep, sound advise from IAM. And probably most of us in the forum put this into practice. It is frustrating though, that here in the UK the onus is placed on the vunerable road user to take these steps to protect themselves. Many drivers claim that having a car gives the 'greater freedom'. I've always been taught that with 'greater freedom' comes 'greater responsibility' This can be applied to everything. Maybe if all of us could put into practice our greater responsibility on the roads hopefully they will start becoming a bit safer.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1059 posts]
16th April 2012 - 16:47

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giff77 wrote:
Yep, sound advise from IAM. And probably most of us in the forum put this into practice. It is frustrating though, that here in the UK the onus is placed on the vunerable road user to take these steps to protect themselves.

It's always the same. Like those who push for helmet compulsion and so many road safety campaigns, they always look to modify the victim's behaviour for the answer. As others have said, you can ride as safely/defensively/alertly and lit up like a Christmas Tree but too often it isn't enough.

If drivers took their responsibility to other road users more seriously, instead of talking on mobiles, using their 4x4 to bully other road users or charging around thinking they're the next Colin McRae, then there would be many fewer collisions.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2000 posts]
17th April 2012 - 10:10

4 Likes

The IAM has previously voiced support for making cycle awareness part of the driving test as proposed here http://bikeaware.org.uk and often speaks up for cyclists who comprise a growing proportion of its membership.

iDavid's picture

posted by iDavid [47 posts]
18th April 2012 - 19:54

5 Likes

I like the IAM but have to strongly disagree with the hiviz idea... having worn it I know it has zero effect on SMIDSYs.. because the truth about SMIDSYs is that they're not actually looking in the first place.

I also think winter and spring sunshine hold their own risks as the sun is much lower and will mask you. I put the lights on to counter this (saw how effective it seemed on motorcycles, though I have no evidence to back this up, its just a guess)

I think its also worth non-cyclists realising that windscreens can reflect a lot of light. Sometimes its hard to see if a driver seen you because of the glare off the car.

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
18th April 2012 - 21:17

7 Likes

What is scary for me is that I am teaching 2 young grandchildren the dangers of the roads. I am sometimes overcautious because I am the vulnerable one but I would rather be that way. Drivers need to learn that 10 seconds out of their day will keep a cyclist safe and allow them to get to their destination without incident. Yes we can minimise the risks by wearing bright clothing having good lights. Lets see the car/lorry/bus/van driver being more cautious and accomodating to us. We also need to do our bit by not underestimating the risks we leave ourselves open to each day. The key ingredient is that if you ride a bike and drive a car which I guess many of us do you are more aware and accomodating to good and BAD cyclists.

Jimbo

posted by Jim Neville [9 posts]
18th April 2012 - 22:55

4 Likes

downfader wrote:
I also think winter and spring sunshine hold their own risks as the sun is much lower and will mask you. I put the lights on to counter this (saw how effective it seemed on motorcycles, though I have no evidence to back this up, its just a guess)

I normally use flashing lights front and rear at ALL times, but yesterday went for a mile and a half circuit of the village to continue with #30daysofbiking and didn't bother with the lights. Half way round encountered airhead school run mum who completely failed to see me and pulled out in front of me from a right hand turning. Not even SMIDSY... TOTALLY unaware. I took avoiding action. At least her offspring were safe in their metal box. Last time I go out without the flashers on. Lesson learned.

Batch.

posted by batch [60 posts]
18th April 2012 - 23:07

3 Likes

batch wrote:
downfader wrote:
I also think winter and spring sunshine hold their own risks as the sun is much lower and will mask you. I put the lights on to counter this (saw how effective it seemed on motorcycles, though I have no evidence to back this up, its just a guess)

I normally use flashing lights front and rear at ALL times, but yesterday went for a mile and a half circuit of the village to continue with #30daysofbiking and didn't bother with the lights. Half way round encountered airhead school run mum who completely failed to see me and pulled out in front of me from a right hand turning. Not even SMIDSY... TOTALLY unaware. I took avoiding action. At least her offspring were safe in their metal box. Last time I go out without the flashers on. Lesson learned.

Batch.

This is the problem - we've allowed a road network to evolve where the incompetent are still allowed, and any criticism of them has to be discouraged because they've "paid to be there".

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
19th April 2012 - 16:22

8 Likes