National cyclists' organisation, the CTC has today launched its Road Justice Campaign which aims to get the justice system to take a more rigorous approach to investigating, prosecuting, and sentencing incidents of bad driving on Britain's roads.
In a statement on its home page at www.roadjustice.org.uk the campaign sets out what it is seeking to change:
"Road casualties can and should be prevented, yet the justice system is failing to ensure safety on our roads by not taking road crime seriously. The police and coroners do not investigate road collisions thoroughly enough; the prosecution services make weak charging and prosecution decisions, and the courts issue sentences that do not adequately reflect the severity of crimes committed by bad drivers."
A crucial part of the new campaign is collating reports of bad driving and court cases involving bad driving from both the media and also individual cyclists - you can report incidents and near misses on the Road Justice website www.roadjustice.org.uk and even upload video. The site also logs media reports. All of the data gathered is broken down by region, type of incident, other vehicles involved and the eventual outcome.
All that data is backed up by hard hitting testimony from some of the cyclists who have suffered both at the hands of bad drivers but also of a legal system which they feel has not properly held anyone to account for the pain and suffering that they have gone through, and in some cases will continue to go through for the rest of their lives.
Among the powerful testimonies on the Road Justice site is the case of Cait Hurley - whose legs were run over by a lorry which hit her while she was riding in the cycle lane on her regular commute across Southwark Bridge in Feburuary last year.
Cait's case is a grim illustration of just how high the authorities set the bar when it comes to deciding whether injuries are 'life changing' or not. That designation matters because as Cait explains in this video - because if your injures are deemed non-life threatening and non-life changing the police will not track down witnesses, or put the same effort in to prosecuting the driver - a charge of careless driving was dropped against the lorry driver who caused her inures due to 'lack of evidence" which, says Cait and the Road Justice Campaign, existed but which the police never attempted to gather. Despite her injuries being non-life threatening Cait, a mother of two young children, who previously rode 20 miles a day - now walks with two sticks. The only form of exercise she can do is swimming but given the nature of the scarring to her legs she finds this psychologically difficult.
Equally powerful is the film and testimony of Sarah-Charlotte Peace - known as S-C, she was due to start a new job as a design teacher and to expand her business teaching yoga when her plans were wrecked by a careless driver who ran over both of her legs twice when she knocked S-C off her bike at a roundabout. The driver received a fine of £110 with a £15 victim surcharge, £60 costs and nine penalty points on her licence. S-C attended the magistrates court for the hearing and was told by the magistrate that had they not seen the extent of her injuries the driver would have received a lesser sentence.
The new campaign builds on the work of CTC's Stop SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You) campaign and their recent efforts to get newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners to make road safety a priority. You can report you own examples of bad driving to the site - including video footage - by logging on to the site you can also support through donations and by signing up for campaign updates.
To find out more visit www.roadjustice.org.uk
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.