Road Justice report details police failings and sets out 10-point plan for improvement

Campaigners and victims of road cycling road crashes are today visiting over 30 Police and Crime Commissioner to hand over the CTC’s Road Justice report which examines the deficiencies of roads policing as it relates to crashes involving people on bikes.

As many recent cases have highlighted, cyclists generally feel theses cases are not taken seriously by the police and prosecution service.

The report includes eight case studies of cyclists who suffered serious injuries. Failings of the policing of their cases include: failure to attend a crash scene; automatically assuming an injured cyclist is at fault; failing to take timely witness statements; and failing to keep victims informed of case progress.

Recently released figures from the Department for Transport, show serious injuries and deaths of people on bikes up 5 percent in 2012 against the previous year, while overall roads policing has been cut by 29% over the last decade.

CTC’s Road Justice Campaigner Rhia Weston said: “Time and again CTC hears stories of cyclists who have suffered life changing injuries in collisions with motor vehicles, but who then have to fight for justice. It is vital that collisions are investigated thoroughly, not just for the sake of the victims but also to send out the message that bad driving will not be tolerated. We hope all Police and Crime Commissioners pledge to implement the report’s recommendations to strengthen roads policing and help make our roads safer for everyone."

A typical case

The case of Dan Black from Chepstow is typical. Dan was left tri-plegic following a collision with a car driver in 2009. The police report made no mention of the driver’s illegal manoeuvre immediately before the collision, nor had police tested the driver’s eyesight at the crash scene, despite telling Dan’s parents they had done so. Instead, they made out that Dan himself was at fault for having inadequate lighting, even though his bike lights were fully compliant with British standards.

Their report also omitted any mention of Dan’s reflective clothing. This key piece of evidence had been cut off him at the crash scene by the paramedics, but was then disposed of by the hospital after the police failed to collect it.

The case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service because it was deemed not to be ‘in the public interest’ and due to Dan’s ‘poor lighting’.

Severe injuries

The CTC's Road Justice site contains many more examples. Here's just one, Sarah-Charlotte Peace, who is making a protracted and painful recovery from severe soft-tissue injuries after being hit at a roundabout. The driver who was subsequently found guilty of careless driving and fined £110, plus £60 court costs, a £15 victim surcharge and received 9 penalty points.

CTC recommendations

The report makes ten recommendations for ways the policing and prosecution of crashes involving bike riders should be improved.

1. The police should use the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Road Death Investigation Manual in cases of serious injury, not just for fatalities. The manual should be renamed The Road Crash Investigation Manual.

2. The police should attend all road crash scenes involving injury and death and collect as much evidence as possible.

3. The police should investigate reports of seriously bad or aggressive driving even when no injury occurs.

4. The police should facilitate collision and ‘near miss’ public reporting systems and follow up reports made via these systems.

5. Potential ancillary offences should be investigated, such as using a mobile phone whilst driving or having defective eyesight.

6. All road crash victims should be included in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime so they receive support to the same standard as victims of other crimes with similar consequences.

7. Police officers at any stage of a collision investigation should guard against a propensity to blame the victim.

8. Roads police need to be adequately resourced to respond appropriately to road collisions and to investigate them thoroughly; and to enforce traffic law.

9. Roads policing should be prioritised for investment by national government and those who allocate resources locally.

10. Training should be provided for roads police, investigation officers and family liaison officers about the practical and legal issues facing cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.