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Officer tells one cyclist: Wear hi-vis in case driver forgets glasses

The Metropolitan Police has revealed that 70 lorries were checked and 100 cyclists pulled over during yesterday's "educate and advise" road safety operation on which we reported yesterday – with one bike rider telling road.cc that she was advised to wear hi-visibility clothing to ensure she could be seen “if a driver wasn’t wearing their glasses.”

The advice the police were giving to cyclists and their choice of riders to stop will inevitably lead some to wonder whether those charged with enforcing road safety on the capital’s streets really understand the safety challenges faced by cyclists and indeed the nature of the dangers that some cyclists put themselves in which the statistics would suggest are nothing to do with choice of headgear and jacket colour and very much to do with road positioning when in proximity to large vehicles.

While it would be both unfair and foolish to judge the Met’s grasp of cycling reality on the streets of London on the back of one operation it is worth noting that the officer’s involved came from the force’s Safer Transport Command which includes the Met’s cycling patrols and the unit tasked with enforcing the rules on HGV safety and therefore it would be assumed familiar with the risks such vehicles pose to cyclists and the ways in which cyclists can put themselves in danger around HGVs.

It is a depressing measure of the educational gap that needs to be closed when it comes to improving the safety of cyclists if even some of the Met’s road safety experts think a hi-vis tabard is a cyclist’s best protection from a short sighted tipper truck driver rather than knowing not to position yourself in his blindspot where your hi-vis will be invisible.

The police operation took place on Vauxhall Bridge Road, Albert Embankment and Whitechapel Road between 7am and 11am.

It coincided with the start of Road Safety Week, and comes after a two-week period in which six London cyclists have been killed in incidents involving large vehicles such as lorries and buses.

Some 15 lorry drivers were issued fixed penalty notices totalling £2,300 for offences including driving more than the legally permitted hours without taking a break, or their vehicles being in an unroadworthy condition.

Officers also fined car drivers for offences such as encroaching on Advanced Stop Lines, also known as ‘bike boxes,’ designed to give space to cyclists at the front of motor vehicles queuing at traffic lights.

As we reported yesterday, cyclists were pulled over and given safety advice on issues such as wearing a helmet – something that is recommended in the Highway Code, but not compulsory – or being warned against the danger of wearing headphones while riding, again something that is not illegal.

Both issues are highly topical. Today, Mayor of London Boris Johnson told London radio station LBC that he would like to see the wearing of headphones by cyclists outlawed on safety grounds (we will be looking at that in a separate news item).

Meanwhile, as Carlton Reid points out in an article on BikeBiz, a Metropolitan Police press release yesterday regarding an unnamed 21-year-old man killed when he was struck by a bus in Whitechapel last week concludes by noting that “the cyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.”

The press release fails to mention whether the cyclist suffered head injuries in the incident, and as Reid points out, cycle helmets in any event are “designed for low-speed impacts from 1 metre and are not designed to offer protection against being hit by a motor vehicle.”

One cyclist, Harriet Lamb, told us in an email of her experience of being stopped by police as she rode across Vauxhall Bridge, with an officer telling her: “Hi, we’re stopping all cyclists in light of the recent cyclist fatalities, to make sure that you’re making yourselves as safe as possible. Obviously it’s great that you have lights on and are wearing a helmet, but have you considered wearing a hi-viz jacket?”

She replied: “No, I’ve got really bright lights, reflective material on my coat and my bike, and I position myself in the road so that I can be seen.”

The officer then said: “I just think that if a driver wasn’t wearing their glasses then they might not be able to see you.”

Harriett asked him: “Do you not think that a driver driving around half-blind is more the problem?”

“Well, we’re just here to talk to cyclists,” continued the officer. “We don’t know yet why so many cyclists are being killed but there are a lot of bad cyclists out there.”

“There are a lot of bad drivers too, perhaps you should talk to them as they’re the ones doing the killing.”

The cyclist, who says the encounter left her “fuming,” also said that the police officer told her that although it wasn’t clear whether bad cycling had been a factor in any of the recent fatalities, there were a lot of bad cyclists around.

She agreed, but pointed out that often, people take unnecessary risks and put themselves in a position of danger without realising they are doing just that, and perhaps the police should be advising them to avail themselves of free cycle training available through local councils.

She also remarked there was a lot of bad driving too – something the officer agreed with.

What the episode does suggest is that particularly at a time when emotions are likely to be charged among those who cycle in London as a result of the deaths that have taken place within the past fortnight, there may be a lack of understanding of the issues surrounding road safety on the part of some officers.

Moreover, the advice to wear hi-visibility clothing to stand out “if a driver wasn’t wearing their glasses” leads to thoughts of Joao Lopes, who was driving the lorry that killed cyclist Eilidh Cairns in Notting Hill in February 2009.

Three months after the fatal incident, police checked Lopes’s eyesight at her family’s insistence and found it to be defective. His licence was revoked, but he got it back in April 2010 and resumed driving lorries.

In October that year, Lopes stood trial on the only charge he ever faced in connection with Eilidh’s death – driving with uncorrected defective vision.

He received three points on his licence and a £200 fine, but magistrates did not ban him from driving.

In June 2011, he was involved in a second fatality when the lorry he was driving struck and killed 97-year-old Nora Gutmann as she crossed Marylebone Road.

He was sentenced to four year’s imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving, and will be disqualified from driving for six years when his jail term ends.

Speaking about yesterday’s police operation, Chief Superintendent Glyn Jones from the MPS Traffic Command, said: "We held this operation in busy areas where lots of cyclists and lorries share the roads during rush hour.

“This is a combination which has the potential to result in collisions if road users don't take adequate care. Our objective today was to raise people's awareness of the safety measures and to check that lorries and their drivers were fit to be on the roads.

"While today's operation focussed on cyclists and lorry drivers, our overall message goes to pedestrians and other drivers too. Our message is do everything within your power to be safe on the roads.

"We are not looking to blame one particular road user; we are here to urge everyone on the road to take the very best of care for the sake of themselves and others."

Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne added: "All the officers within our Traffic and Safer Transport Commands are being deployed to deliver a focused and robust approach to those road users who put others at risk.

“The difference in our approach is this is now their number one priority, with all 2,500 officers from these commands deployed on these duties.

"Our activity will be targeted at all road users, during morning and evening rush hours, who are using our roads dangerously, without consideration or care, to reinforce the point that we all have a duty to be safe on our roads.

"Each and every death is a needless tragedy, the human cost of which should never be forgotten," he concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

41 comments

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bendertherobot [1076 posts] 2 years ago
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If we're predicting people with poor eyesight not wearing their glasses then the only robust approach is not to use the roads until they are taken off them.

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VeloPeo [303 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Today, Mayor of London Boris Johnson told London radio station LBC that he would like to see the wearing of headphones by cyclists outlawed on safety grounds.

This Boris Johnson?
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BZb0YtxCUAEuqTb.jpg

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badkneestom [135 posts] 2 years ago
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I agree, going to the point of preparing yourself for blind drivers is ridiculous. That said, the officer is just doing his job and trying to help.. He's following protocol and they're doing this to TRY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. They don't make the laws that allow poor drivers to continue on roads

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giff77 [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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So, totally disregarding the fact that Harriet is using lights as required by the HC and using reflective material (better than hi viz) the officer in question suggests that Hi Viz should be worn in case some fecker has forgotten their distance glasses. If they can't see you well lit up and reflected without their glasses. They sure as heck are not going to see you wearing a bright yellow jacket. Maybe the met's finest should randomly stop drivers and carry out a roadside eye test as they are so concerned about blind drivers on the roads.

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giff77 [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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badkneestom wrote:

I agree, going to the point of preparing yourself for blind drivers is ridiculous. That said, the officer is just doing his job and trying to help.. He's following protocol and they're doing this to TRY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. They don't make the laws that allow poor drivers to continue on roads

Trying to save your life is when the squad car following the bugger who has executed a punishment pass or has squeezed between you and a traffic island or who has nudged you while in a bike box pulls them over and issues them a summons. That's SAVING OUR LIVES.

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adamthekiwi [110 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

They don't make the laws that allow poor drivers to continue on roads

No, they fail to enforce the laws, along with the CPS.

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bendertherobot [1076 posts] 2 years ago
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badkneestom wrote:

I agree, going to the point of preparing yourself for blind drivers is ridiculous. That said, the officer is just doing his job and trying to help.. He's following protocol and they're doing this to TRY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. They don't make the laws that allow poor drivers to continue on roads

Which protocol? Are you suggesting that the Met have a list of non laws that they seek to promote?

The police don't make laws, agreed. They enforce them and advise us what they are.

In this case they are saying "Look, we appreciate that driving without corrected vision is an offence, but, despite the fact that there is no requirement for hi vis, we think you need to wear it to protect yourself."

We'll be down the road of bloody asking for it soon.

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alexb [128 posts] 2 years ago
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15 offences and a total of just £2300 in fines. No wonder the haulage industry just laughs it off.

Pull the lorry off the road, impound it and have it collected at their expense, fixed and re-tested prior to being allowed back on the road and you might get them to sit up and pay attention.

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bendertherobot [1076 posts] 2 years ago
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alexb wrote:

15 offences and a total of just £2300 in fines. No wonder the haulage industry just laughs it off.

Pull the lorry off the road, impound it and have it collected at their expense, fixed and re-tested prior to being allowed back on the road and you might get them to sit up and pay attention.

This is the real story. If the offences are, for example, drivers over their hours there should be no onward travel.

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bendertherobot [1076 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:
bendertherobot wrote:

If we're predicting people with poor eyesight not wearing their glasses then the only robust approach is not to use the roads until they are taken off them.

I guess it's pretty unlikely that a professional driver would not be using glasses if required, but this is a valid point.

We often hear about (mainly elderly) drivers whose eyesight is perhaps below the standards required, and there is currently no requirement to be tested, for car drivers. Indeed, even with HGV drivers, there is no eye test until the age of 45, so there may be lots of drivers out there with defective vision.

In my opinion, the difference in visibility, to someone with slightly dodgy eyesight, would make an even stronger argument for wearing hi-viz than is already desperately apparent.

Really? Is the yellow blur more or less likely to be a cyclist?

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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bendertherobot wrote:

If we're predicting people with poor eyesight not wearing their glasses then the only robust approach is not to use the roads until they are taken off them.

I guess it's pretty unlikely that a professional driver would not be using glasses if required, but this is a valid point.

We often hear about (mainly elderly) drivers whose eyesight is perhaps below the standards required, and there is currently no requirement to be tested, for car drivers. Indeed, even with HGV drivers, there is no eye test until the age of 45, so there may be lots of drivers out there with defective vision.

In my opinion, the difference in visibility, to someone with slightly dodgy eyesight, would make an even stronger argument for wearing hi-viz than is already desperately apparent.

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zeb [49 posts] 2 years ago
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The problem is not if the advice is good or not. The problem is that once again the cyclist is supposed to be at fault when squashed by a truck, even if the truck driver is inconsiderate or breaking the law. This is exactly what he means by saying that: that the burden of care and attention is only on the cyclist's side. It says a lot about the mentality of the police and this is reflected by the level of contempt when it comes to chase road crime. He could have just said "You should take the tube" it would have been the same.

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Ush [693 posts] 2 years ago
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They should shove all these officers onto bikes and (tracking them by GPS to ensure they follow their allotted routes) distribute them over the road system.

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msfergus [22 posts] 2 years ago
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As usual too many people on here take the comments too literally and miss the point of what the Operation was really about. As a car driver and cyclist I am happy to take some responsibility for my own and others' well-being whether driving or cycling. Hi-viz clothing works; it's that simple. When driving, cyclists are easier to see so when I'm cycling, it makes sense to don high-viz. The police officer was almost certainly making that point, all be it a bit tongue in cheek! Apportioning blame is pointless for the dead and injured. Might as well say 'it's my right of way and if I die exercising it, then I died being right'!
We will only end vehicle/cycle collisions if the 2 can be separated. That is happening in small ways but will never happen extensively or quickly. Until then, we all share the responsibility of keeping ourselves safe, and making it easier for others to keep us safe as well.

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martib [63 posts] 2 years ago
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Jeremy Vine did a piece on how cyclists can protect themselves today, when someone mentioned drivers he said "but you are not going to get drivers to change the way they drive" I was gobsmacked I hate poor driving as a cyclist and as a driver. Simple crack down on road users drivers, cyclists & pedestrians would send a clear message. Simple message to drivers should be 3 points for first offence, 6 points for second, ban for a year for third, no excuses of I need my car to take riddles to the vets once a week! Tough it would make people sit up and pay attention. As for Company vehicles if one of their vehicles kills someone simple head honcho of the company in the dock for Corporate Manslaughter. A few years ago the Army started putting devices in the civilian cars to measure acceleration, cornering braking and was GPS enabled a box on the dash registered green, amber & red LED's more than 2 red LEDS during a journey when it was downloaded and you were called in to explain with the possibility of disciplinary action. All company vehicles should be fitted with them. Time people learnt that car is not God and a driving licence is a privilege and with it comes responsibility.
Having lived in Germany I used to cycle more than use the car because the law and infrastructure enabled me to get places faster and protected me. The roads are there for everyone to use, not just cars, vans & lorries.

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BikeBud [205 posts] 2 years ago
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giff77 wrote:
badkneestom wrote:

I agree, going to the point of preparing yourself for blind drivers is ridiculous. That said, the officer is just doing his job and trying to help.. He's following protocol and they're doing this to TRY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. They don't make the laws that allow poor drivers to continue on roads

Trying to save your life is when the squad car following the bugger who has executed a punishment pass or has squeezed between you and a traffic island or who has nudged you while in a bike box pulls them over and issues them a summons. That's SAVING OUR LIVES.

If they're following the driver they wouldn't be saving your life.

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sm [382 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh dear. Are we sure this wasn't being filmed as satire? Somebody is going to tell me this all a joke soon. Right?

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therevokid [948 posts] 2 years ago
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forgets his glasses ... !!! You're kidding me right ??? You're not !
oh for the love of god ......

any car over 3 years old needs an mot. Perhaps it's time we
started testing the cretin behind the wheel on a yearly basis !
If I were to forget my glasses it's likely I'd not find the car let
alone drive it - what a statement to make !

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crazy-legs [768 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Pull the lorry off the road, impound it and have it collected at their expense, fixed and re-tested prior to being allowed back on the road and you might get them to sit up and pay attention.

I agree but unless you're at a motorway services (where there's lots of space and you're not interfering with anyone else) it's almost impossible to do.

This is on Vauxhall Bridge - you stop 10 lorries there and prevent them from any onward travel due to various defects, driver over the hours etc and before you know it, the entire bridge is blocked and you've got traffic chaos.

There's the other factor that if it's carrying livestock or perishables, you've got the welfare of the cargo to think about too. Can't leave it parked up in central London for 6hrs while the company finds another driver, gets him to the scene, makes the onward journey.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with you entirely, the penalties for bad driving are far too lax and should be much higher (and enforced much better). Just pointing out the the logistics of stopping lorries (or even cars) in London are far from simple. Which is why they take the much easier target of stopping cyclists - we don't take up as much room when stopped!

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Bikemonkey [4 posts] 2 years ago
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In my experience a large portion of the trouble has nothing to do with not being seen. In fact, quite the opposite. I ride up the bus lane up the hill on the A3 just after the Robin Hood roundabout every day. Generally speaking all lanes are stationary with traffic at about half to 3/4 of the way up the hill. Today the driver of a skip lorry decided that I shouldn't be there, he told me so when we exchanged our opinions, despite the sign saying HGVs, Taxi, Buses and Cycles. For the first 100 yards driving inches from my back wheel with his hand on the horn was his chosen pleasure followed by passing me close enough to touch me and finally a quick brake test before he reached the back of the traffic queue. I'm guessing no amount of hi-viz is going to change his behaviour.

I got everything from "you fcuking cyclist think you own the road" to some nonsense about road tax and of course I replied appropriately. But it was only when I reflected on the experience as I rode off that it dawned on me that had he squeezed me a few more inches and had I fallen I'd have likely ended up between the kerb and his wheels and that would have hurt.... At the very least.

Purposely bad cyclist pi55 me off. I see them every day. But the main difference is that a reckless cyclist is only ever likely to kill himself where as a reckless lorry driver could do a whole lot more damage.

I'm not suggesting all drivers are reckless and certainly not suggesting this explains any of the recent deaths. And yes hi-viz can certainly help with genuine didn't see you cases. But Policing is the only solution to people like the skip knobby I came across today.

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monty dog [457 posts] 2 years ago
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I guess they'll inform the grieving family of the next unwilling victim of fatal trauma suffered to their pelvis and abdomen having been run-over by a 32-ton tipper truck that at least they were wearing high-vis and a helmet! F*tards

Bring the weight of Health & Safety Legislation to commercial vehicle operators with zero tolerance of accidents and fatalities. New public service contracts to have huge penalties for breaching the conditions - commercial vehicle operators will soon take note when their bottom line is squeezed. It worked in the construction industry to virtually eliminate deaths and serious injury - Boris take note.

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mrmo [2077 posts] 2 years ago
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http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/workmobiles.pdf

thought it worth mentioning.

Quote:

The Police may check phone records when investigating fatal and serious crashes to determine if use of a phone contributed to the crash. Employers who require staff to use any mobile phone while driving for work could be prosecuted if an investigation determined that such use of the phone contributed to a crash. Claims in the civil courts could also result.

so lets see the corporate manslaughter cases when reps aren't paying attention!!!!!

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giff77 [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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BikeBud wrote:
giff77 wrote:
badkneestom wrote:

I agree, going to the point of preparing yourself for blind drivers is ridiculous. That said, the officer is just doing his job and trying to help.. He's following protocol and they're doing this to TRY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. They don't make the laws that allow poor drivers to continue on roads

Trying to save your life is when the squad car following the bugger who has executed a punishment pass or has squeezed between you and a traffic island or who has nudged you while in a bike box pulls them over and issues them a summons. That's SAVING OUR LIVES.

If they're following the driver they wouldn't be saving your life.

They would be. The other week I had a Audi perform a punishment pass despite there being no oncoming traffic in good visibility and a straight as an arrow carriageway. The squad car following executed a perfect overtake but omitted to blue light the bugger in the Audi. I'm sure that if they did and gave him a rollicking or hand him a summons it would be highly unlikely he would pull the same stunt again.

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mrmo [2077 posts] 2 years ago
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giff77 wrote:

They would be. The other week I had a Audi perform a punishment pass despite there being no oncoming traffic in good visibility and a straight as an arrow carriageway. The squad car following executed a perfect overtake but omitted to blue light the bugger in the Audi. I'm sure that if they did and gave him a rollicking or hand him a summons it would be highly unlikely he would pull the same stunt again.

On the back of the tv programs, do police cars carry cameras?

After an incident with a bus apparently my local buses are all fitted with cameras, so if there are any issues they are filmed. So i know it can happen as policy? But do the police carry cameras in cars as standard? Just thinking it would make sense in a court to back up whatever the police say?

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antigee [336 posts] 2 years ago
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so in a random spot check over 20% of the trucks were either defective in some way or the drivers breaking the law on safe driving hours - this is the real headline - remembering that we are talking about the bare legal minimums here

contrast with from recent article credited to Sunday Times
headlined "10% of cyclists ignore red lights" (7% at the London site sampled) and of course only put themselves at danger

simple numbers says where Police priority for action is needed

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giff77 [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
giff77 wrote:

They would be. The other week I had a Audi perform a punishment pass despite there being no oncoming traffic in good visibility and a straight as an arrow carriageway. The squad car following executed a perfect overtake but omitted to blue light the bugger in the Audi. I'm sure that if they did and gave him a rollicking or hand him a summons it would be highly unlikely he would pull the same stunt again.

On the back of the tv programs, do police cars carry cameras?

After an incident with a bus apparently my local buses are all fitted with cameras, so if there are any issues they are filmed. So i know it can happen as policy? But do the police carry cameras in cars as standard? Just thinking it would make sense in a court to back up whatever the police say?

Not sure about the station vehicles. I know Traffic probably will in their marked and unmarked vehicles. My local bus company has had them fitted recently as well. A friend got an apology from them after being tailgated through town not so long ago. They said when they reviewed the tape it was quite shocking how close he was.

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Northernbike [229 posts] 2 years ago
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sm wrote:

Oh dear. Are we sure this wasn't being filmed as satire? Somebody is going to tell me this all a joke soon. Right?

It's aready on youtube it seems:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO8EpfyCG2Y

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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The problem is the idiots with a serious attitude problem who think they own the road. IMHO confiscating vehicles is the way to go. It's the only way to hit rogue commercial operators and company car owners.

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vbvb [595 posts] 2 years ago
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The police officers know nothing about the ins and outs of the helmets and hi-viz debates. But they spend all day having helmet chats and then making an enormous noise about it in the media, discouraging cycling on the way but safe from any Boris Attack. Little fines for ASL offenders? What about the 3 points? I bet they never hand out the 3 points fines.

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racyrich [254 posts] 2 years ago
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Bikemonkey wrote:

But Policing is the only solution to people like the skip knobby I came across today.

Actually, for a commercial vehicle like that, if it has a company name on the side, a call to HMRC complaining about the company wanting cash for its work can have some fun effects.

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