West Midlands Police reports that its operation to protect riders from “close-pass” motorists has secured its first court conviction. A 60-year-old Birmingham lorry driver was convicted of driving without due care and attention after being caught on camera squeezing past a cyclist on a Black Country road last November.
Launched last September, West Midlands Police’s #GiveSpaceBeSafe scheme involves plain clothes officers cycling the region’s busiest roads on the lookout for motorists who pass too closely. The initiative was launched following analysis of road traffic collisions which resulted in the force concluding that prosecution was the only way to encourage drivers to be more aware of vulnerable road users.
Almost 200 offenders have been pulled over and while most have been allowed on their way after being given on-the-spot education on safe overtaking using a specially designed floor mat, 13 drivers went on to be prosecuted and two had licences revoked at the roadside for failing eyesight tests.
The force has also prosecuted more than 300 offenders using helmet and dash cam footage provided by members of the public.
The 56-year-old cyclist who was affected by the HGV close-pass on Tipton’s Park Lane West said he started using cameras after being knock-off his bike by a hit and run driver in 2015.
“I was seriously hurt and it took six weeks to recover – and what made matters worse for me was that we couldn’t trace the driver.”
On this occasion, he had footage and the unnamed driver, who denied the offence, was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £1,038 and given five points on his licence after being found guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on June 30.
PC Mark Hodson from the Central Motorway Police Group said: “This was a clear case of a close-pass: the cyclist was nearly forced into the kerb and the actions of the truck driver could easily have caused a very serious collision. He maintained his innocence, though, and has now been convicted in court.
“Our advice to drivers overtaking cyclists and other vulnerable road users like horse riders is to be patient, plan your overtake, and give plenty of room – the Highway Code says drivers should give the same room as when overtaking another vehicle which is about 1.5-metres or an open car door’s width.
“A few seconds delay to ensure a safe overtake is nothing compared to the consequences of a poorly planned and executed overtake can be.”