Today’s near miss involves a spectacularly ill-judged overtake by an Ocado driver who only narrowly misses a cyclist and an oncoming car thanks largely to the actions of the other two parties.
The incident took place at around 7am on March 14 as Andrew was cycling to work through Surrey.
“While on a quiet country road, I heard a van approaching behind me. Simultaneously I spotted a car coming in the other direction. I had considered myself to have ‘taken the lane,’ but to my dismay heard the pitch of engine behind me change. I knew at that point, given the closing speeds involved, this was not going to end well.
“An Ocado van then passed very close by and swerved into the kerb in front of me, in order to avoid a head-on collision with the car approaching in the opposite direction.
“I would estimate the back of the van came within about 10cm of my handlebars, and that was after I had swerved in towards the kerb. Had I not taken avoiding action, my handlebars would have been clipped and I would probably have gone under the back wheels of the van.
“I conclude that the only reason I am typing this now is down to the diligence and care of the car driver approaching in the other direction, who must have anticipated the situation developing and slowed down very quickly.
“I have been in touch with Ocado via Twitter, who have indicated the incident will be taken seriously. However at this point I have no idea whether this will amount to any more than a verbal reprimand.
“I am at a loss to explain how someone who drives for a living can treat the lives of other road users with such callous disregard.”
An Ocado spokesperson said an investigation was underway: "Road safety is a top priority of ours so we do take issues like this seriously. We recruit drivers with high driving standards and then take time to train them extensively on road safety and awareness."
Surrey Police’s Roads Policing Unit has said that it will be “pushing for a conviction.”
This is NOT an acceptable overtake by the van.
Incredibly poor planning resulting in the cyclist being squeezed into the kerb. Very lucky not have caused a significant collision.
Sent in from a follower, we’ll be pushing for a prosecution on the driver.
You can send dash or… pic.twitter.com/4HCxywCO0L
— RPU - Surrey Police (@SurreyRoadCops) March 15, 2018
Andrew also makes the point that many fleet drivers are under pressure due to a “rush mentality” that often comes with the job and asks whether this could have played a part.
Last week, following a near-miss with a bus, Radio 2 presenter Jeremy Vine drew attention to the time pressures faced by bus drivers and implied that this is likely to have an impact on how the vehicles are driven.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has also warned of dangers accompanying the rise in van traffic, describing the situation as a ‘ticking accident time bomb’.
IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, Neil Greig pointed out that van drivers face additional challenges that car drivers rarely will.
“As more and more orders are made online, it is very likely that the increased growth in the number of van drivers will continue,” he said.
“But whether your fleet is made up of vans or HGVs, the same corporate manslaughter laws apply and as an employer it is not enough to assume that just holding a driving licence will keep your drivers safe. With additional pressures on them, including often overly optimistic delivery schedules, van drivers face challenges car drivers rarely will.”
Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.
If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc (info [at] road.cc) or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.
If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).
Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.