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West Midlands Police releases footage of driver prosecuted for close pass

Reports of close passes have halved since being targeted by police operation

West Midlands Police has released footage of the moment a Jaguar driver passed within 10cm of a cyclist while driving at nearly 50mph in a 30mph zone on Harborne Road in Birmingham.

“Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand that we run operations to catch them – and if they avoid our officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by cyclists and other motorists,” commented PC Mark Hodson from West Midlands Police.

The incident occurred at 7.30am on October 5. The driver was a 33-year-old Birmingham doctor on his way to work.

Footage provided by the cyclist was used by the Road Harm Reduction Team to prosecute the man for driving without due care and attention.

He admitted the offence and on Monday was handed fines and costs totalling £265 and given three points on his licence.

Launched 18 months ago, West Midlands Police’s #OpClosePass involves plain clothes officers riding along busy roads on the lookout for motorists who pass too closely. However, the force has also prosecuted more than 400 motorists using video footage provided by the public.

The operation has so far resulted in a 20 per cent drop in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the region.

Commenting on the video and conviction, Hodson said:

“This was a shocking example of a hazardous close pass and in one manoeuvre the driver has committed offences that would fail a driving test: endangering the cyclist, speeding and undertaking other vehicles.

“We assessed he came less than 10cms from the bike’s handlebars. That alone could have caused the cyclist to fall off, and potentially been seriously hurt, but had he clipped the bike it could have had fatal consequences.

“He initially denied being at fault and opted for a court trial instead of accepting a fine or drive improvement course – but his excuses were rubbished by the video evidence and he later changed his plea to guilty.

“We’ve prosecuted hundreds of inconsiderate motorists thanks to video evidence provided by road users and I expect that figure to surpass 1,000 later this year.”

He added: “Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole, motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger our members.

“We’ve seen reports of close-passes halve in the West Midlands since we started the project and the number of cyclists seriously hurt in collisions fall by a fifth – that’s incredible against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads.”

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