Cyclist hits out at driver awareness course but no charges for motorist who knocked him down… on bike path

Rider injured and bike written off after car crossed grass verge and struck him on shared use path

by Simon_MacMichael   March 26, 2013  

road.cc news

A Dorset cyclist who needed to be treated in hospital after suffering cuts and bruises when he was knocked off his bike by a car while riding on an off-road shared use path has expressed his frustration after learning that the only action taken against the motorist involved was to offer her a place on a driver awareness course.

Mike Anwyll, aged 51, whose bike was written off in the incident, told the Bournemouth Echo that he couldn't understand Dorset Police's decision.

He told the newspaper: “It felt like a bomb had gone off under the bike – I didn’t realise what had happened at first.

“My issue is not really with the driver. It’s with the police over the lack of consistency in these things.

“For instance, my father-in-law was fined and got penalty points for doing 36mph at 4am on his way to the airport.

“On the other hand, I get knocked over by someone who loses control, mounts the pavement and crosses a grass verge on to the designated cycle path. This doesn’t make sense.”

A look at Gravel Hill in Poole on Google Street View shows that a shared use path runs alongside the road in several stretches, separated form the main carriageway by a grass verge that is at least one metre wide and in some places much wider.

The cyclist complained to Dorset Police and received a reply in which a representative of the force stated: “I have concluded that the driver was sufficiently blameworthy to justify further police action.

“In view of the poor driving judgement shown, I intend to make an offer of attendance on a driver awareness course. 

“While there is sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution, there is no provision in law for a magistrate to order such retraining and the imposition of a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits.”

However, Mr Anwyll, who commutes by bike to his work each day as an electrician and now has 21 days to reply to the police’s letter, said: “I find that a really strange admission to make, that fines and points don’t have any effect as far as driving habits are concerned.”

He added that the motorist had said that the incident had been caused by an issue with her vehicle’s steering, although if a mechanical problem is to blame, that doesn’t seem to tally with the police’s decision to offer her a place on a driver awareness course.

A spokesman for Dorset Police told the Bournemouth Echo that they were unable to comment on individual cases but added: “Every case is different and all the evidence will have been looked at.”

42 user comments

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benb wrote:
So make them do an awareness course and impose points and a fine.

Well, yes. I was disputing the idea that points and a fine were effective, not suggesting that settling for a course was either sufficient or in any way punitive.

The practical problem would seem to be that the police have the option of either ordering the driver to attend a course, or charging them and letting the magistrates deal with it. Given that we've recently seen magiatrates apply a £35 fine and points where a cyclist was killed, that's not necessarily a great option.

The police have to work with the tools at their disposal and this seems to illustrate the fact that the system is fundamentally flawed in this area.

The interesting point IMO is that the police see the currently available punitive measures as impotent, and personally I agree with that.

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posted by Bez [336 posts]
26th March 2013 - 19:46

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The reason why fines and points don't work is that they are trivial. Any motoring offence should have two zeros tacked on the end of the current fee. That would make people think. 60 quid doesn't say you have been fined. Its less than an admin fee. 3 points mean now't either. 11 maybe, out of 12.
Of course the awareness course should still be run.

posted by mattsccm [217 posts]
26th March 2013 - 19:53

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That's pretty peculiar fo sho. My goodness

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posted by koko56 [298 posts]
26th March 2013 - 19:59

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The police do nothing....shock, horror, gasp.....and we expect better of them!?? Angry

Sorry but after this incident that was videoed (low definition on You Tube but HiDef disc supplied to TVP) and with an independent witness, guess what TVP have done....??

Bugger All!

See: http://youtu.be/BoBye7ch1WI

posted by Furry Mommy [31 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:01

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It's comical that the police 'offer' you the choice to go on the course. My sister in law was offered the chance to go on one of these courses after being caught speeding but decided to pay the fine and take the points instead.

posted by bike_food [86 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:27

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Furry Mommy - have you sent that footage to BP Mitchell?

I'm sure they would be pleased to see how their employees represent them on the road! Bearing in mind the construction industry is supposed to abide by strict H&S etc seems he might need a bit of re-training..... Wink

posted by CGSmithy [16 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:40

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bike_food wrote:
My sister in law was offered the chance to go on one of these courses after being caught speeding but decided to pay the fine and take the points instead.

Thats because its the easy way out. If your working you have to take the time off which will cost you leave and having to tell the boss why you want time off.

3 points and a small fine are easier to swallow.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2425 posts]
26th March 2013 - 21:00

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stumps wrote:
bike_food wrote:
My sister in law was offered the chance to go on one of these courses after being caught speeding but decided to pay the fine and take the points instead.

Thats because its the easy way out. If your working you have to take the time off which will cost you leave and having to tell the boss why you want time off.

3 points and a small fine are easier to swallow.

Not necessarily so. The two people I know who have been offered the course have taken it to avoid the fine and the points. One driving from Brighton to Dorset to attend, the other being very much of the opinion that being offered the course was being "let off" and avoided the real punishment of the points and the fine.

Points and thirty quid fines may seem trivial to some people but I think to many they send a better message that it is a punishment for braking the law.

Rob

posted by robert.brady [142 posts]
26th March 2013 - 21:38

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There is a fine of sorts I think. The driver who hit me on a roundabout was given the option to attend a course but it was at his own expense - £130 if I remember rightly

posted by graham_f [73 posts]
26th March 2013 - 22:45

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While it's a little off topic, I was reading up on pedestrian crossing design across Europe and was interested to note that the penalty for failing to give way on a crossing in Belgium is €2400. Presumably drivers take care to the extent of not paying THAT more than once....

posted by CarlosFerreiro [42 posts]
26th March 2013 - 23:02

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The police prefer driver awareness training - no prosecution - less paperwork. Clearly, awareness training is positive however, he real problem here is that the courts cannot include compulsory driver awareness training as part of a penalty so it's either prosecution or awareness training. In some cases there would be benefit in the courts deciding to impose a mixture of both where circumstances warrant it.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [163 posts]
27th March 2013 - 9:46

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I did a driver's awareness course a few years ago. As I understand it you could do it if you we're slightly rather than greatly over the speed limit.
It did cost a not insignificant amount.
It was really good - essentially an accident prevention course, looking at speed, road signs and conditions, mirrors. We also had a session with a driving instructor in the afternoon, about 40 minutes of one to one.
It was a useful reminder that all the things you think you're doing subconsciously - checking mirrors, anticipating other users - you aren't necessarily doing.
I'd like to see much more of this kind of constructive response to poor driving, perhaps combined with tv advertisements that educate on driving and cycling skills/awareness.

posted by White jazz [9 posts]
27th March 2013 - 9:48

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The wife did the course and on the whole she had praise for it. BUT she also pointed out a typical problem with regards to cycling awareness!

A picture of a scene was shown to the group, consisting of a road, a petrol station, cars etc. The group was asked to identify the hazard.

The wife said there is a cyclist and the road narrows to a pinch point - obviously a correct answer of many.

Trainer: nope that's wrong the answer. The answer he was looking for was someone might be pulling out of the petrol station forecourt and you should be looking for that. No consideration or discussion was planned regarding the cyclist and the pinch point.

I suspect there is very little formal training for the course organisers regarding cycling. In which case it is hardly conducive to correcting bad drivers who have collided with a cyclist.

posted by sfichele [78 posts]
27th March 2013 - 9:59

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There is a cost as mentioned for the course. It varies a bit, but upwards of £90-100 is average. Plus a day off work. Someone I know was caught at 36 in a 30 zone and opted for the training to keep a clean licence. He said it was one of the best days training he had ever had, and having been in a car with him, is a better driver for it. One thing not mentioned - you can only do this once. If you get caught again it's fines and points, no choice.
I would prefer that drivers who make a mistake get trained rather than just fork out £60 and carry on as before.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
27th March 2013 - 11:10

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I'm beginning to think that in cases like this, where the poolice do nothing really that the only course of action is to start taking court action against the driver. It is clear that if ou leave the road, cross a grass verge and hit someone, you were driving without due care and attention and reckless endangerment at the least. I think that actual court action would chang the driver's habbits. You know, a trial and whatnot. But if the police (CPS) are too spineless to take action then the cyclist should...god i hate myself for saying that

posted by md6 [130 posts]
27th March 2013 - 11:27

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YorkshireMike wrote:
I completely empathise with this. I was knocked off my bike while using a cycle lane a couple of weeks ago when a driver decided to pull out without using his mirrors. I required an ambulance etc for cuts and bruising, my bike and clothing were damaged and I was highly visible, with a big LED on my handlebars. My bike is my only form of personal transport, and I had to take 2 weeks off riding.

What does the driver get? Nothing.

It's carelessness, and could have been so much worse.

I got a letter saying 'no further action needed to be taken'. Why not? It's so frustrating.

Where there's blame, There's a claim...
Plenty of ambulance chasing lawyers out there.
I was knocked off in 2010 it took 6 months to complete but I recouped my losses + some more.
Get on the phone!!!

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posted by Noelieboy [67 posts]
27th March 2013 - 11:42

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sfichele wrote:
The wife did the course and on the whole she had praise for it. BUT she also pointed out a typical problem with regards to cycling awareness!

A picture of a scene was shown to the group, consisting of a road, a petrol station, cars etc. The group was asked to identify the hazard.

The wife said there is a cyclist and the road narrows to a pinch point - obviously a correct answer of many.

Trainer: nope that's wrong the answer. The answer he was looking for was someone might be pulling out of the petrol station forecourt and you should be looking for that. No consideration or discussion was planned regarding the cyclist and the pinch point.

I suspect there is very little formal training for the course organisers regarding cycling. In which case it is hardly conducive to correcting bad drivers who have collided with a cyclist.

Crazy. I've noticed that learner drivers are split maybe 60/40 AGAINST leaving me sufficient room when they pass. How are things ever supposed to change while instructors are teaching in this fashion?

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
27th March 2013 - 12:01

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Here's a novel alternative punishment: cyclists should be offered the option to punch a member of the driver's family with the same force with which the driver hit them.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [133 posts]
27th March 2013 - 13:32

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Deliberate speeding isn't the same as (supposedly) suffering a mechanical failure.

Failing to react correctly after losing control is something better treated with training than points, so I think the police made the right decision on this one.

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posted by spatuluk [27 posts]
27th March 2013 - 13:32

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I had a good idea for red-light jumping cyclists too: custard pies or eggs thrown by pedestrians. Or maybe that stringy spray from cans.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [133 posts]
27th March 2013 - 13:35

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Furry Mommy wrote:
The police do nothing....shock, horror, gasp.....and we expect better of them!?? Angry

Sorry but after this incident that was videoed (low definition on You Tube but HiDef disc supplied to TVP) and with an independent witness, guess what TVP have done....??

Bugger All!

See: http://youtu.be/BoBye7ch1WI

I hope this has been sent to the driver's employers? They should know better than to employ violent thugs.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [133 posts]
27th March 2013 - 13:56

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Carl wrote:
I hope this has been sent to the driver's employers? They should know better than to employ violent thugs.

You do realise that the considerate construction scheme is just a bullshit sham don't you? Nobody in this business gives a flying fuck what their drivers do, so long as they get from a-b as fast as possible.

posted by Matt_S [178 posts]
27th March 2013 - 14:09

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Having been snapped at 36 on a dual-carriageway A-road at 7am on a Sunday (no excuse of course) I opted for the awareness course.

Half a day of quite sensible re-education and picking up a few tips, including one that I'm 100% certain saved a head-on smash a week later (the 'thicker lines = more hazard' one).

BUT - and this is the biggie - had I opted for the points instead of paying £80 for the course, next year's insurance premium would have been nearly triple the £500 it is now.

No-one ever mentions that in this debate - points are bloody expensive a year later, and I think insurance firms take them into account for quite a few years afterward.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [362 posts]
27th March 2013 - 16:19

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Hmmm. Going back to the original issue; the police thought re-education over any penalty because the driver claimed the steering on her car went. Surely this could be proven easily by a mechanical assessment. This should be the first cause of action in a case of attempted murder/manslaughter. What else is it when someone aims 2 tons of steel at an innocent bystander? Anyway a call to one of those terribly keen lawyers should see him right with damages etc.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [971 posts]
27th March 2013 - 18:15

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Couple of points i've picked up on. The main story was about how the Police did nothing yet there are numerous comments stating it's a good course etc etc, so in reality the Police took the correct action.

Secondly, md6, have you read the previous comments about what the Police did ? obviously not because if they had not done anything then what do you call the driver awareness course ??????? and all the positive comments about it.

Finally, if you dont declare points how does your premium go up ? I believe, and someone please correct me if i'm wrong here, there are only certain offences where you have to declare the points and i dont think speeding is one. Insurance companies dont have access to the DVLA computers for data protection purposes.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2425 posts]
27th March 2013 - 18:24

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Furry Mommy wrote:
The police do nothing....shock, horror, gasp.....and we expect better of them!?? Angry

Sorry but after this incident that was videoed (low definition on You Tube but HiDef disc supplied to TVP) and with an independent witness, guess what TVP have done....??

Bugger All!

See: http://youtu.be/BoBye7ch1WI

I think I would have difficulty in not head butting the ignorant lorry driving twat, he was mm away from committing manslaughter

posted by Simmo72 [210 posts]
27th March 2013 - 21:50

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Every motor insurer requires full disclosure of every accident, claim and driving offence ever committed.
Whether they then choose to rate your premium on them is up to them. Many choose to ignore a single fixed penalty speeding offence as so many people have them and they're not that indicative of poor driving (ie, bad risk).
Failure to disclose ANYTHING will invalidate the policy. They'll certainly check everything if you ever claim or are claimed against.

[32 years cycling. 23 years in insurance]

posted by racyrich [81 posts]
27th March 2013 - 23:29

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Few employers care about how their employees drive, or even care about their welfare, the people I work for expect their employees to eat their lunch while driving between sites.

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posted by the_mikey [146 posts]
28th March 2013 - 10:00

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racyrich, the problem there is the insurance companies dont have access to dvla records and the dvla wont disclose anything to them. They have to apply through a data protection request which costs them money so they wont do it.

In my line of work we speak to Insurance companies on a regular basis and to be honest they dont care about speeding points on licence's or other minor infringements and when asked if it invalidates a policy they say NO because they would rather have their money coming in than not.

I'm sure there will be instances when the insurance company does submit a data protection request, usually when its a multiple times claimant.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2425 posts]
28th March 2013 - 10:24

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stumps wrote:
A driver awareness course is better than a paltry fine and 3 points which would prove nothing.

The course will improve their driving and make them more aware so that hopefully this wont happen again, however there will be people who completely disagree and will want the drivers head on a stake.


[[[[ "Driver's head on a stake"? No, but I wonder was the driver's mouth on an excess-alchohol breathalyser? And was this not "driving without due care and attention"? One could almost imagine an anti-cyclist bias here.....truly mind-boggling.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [226 posts]
29th March 2013 - 0:56

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