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Near Miss of the Day 737: Overtaking van driver beeps at cyclist and swerves at him ... but only gets a warning letter

Our regular series featuring close passes from around the country - today it's Thames Valley...

A van driver who beeped the horn at a cyclist as they overtook him then swerved back in at the bike rider has received no more than a warning letter from the police force the incident was reported to, with stronger action not taken because there was apparently insufficient evidence to give a realistic prospect of a successful prosecution of the motorist.

The incident was filmed by road.cc reader Steve, who told us that after being told of the outcome, he phoned the officer handling the case, “mainly to ask what the evidential burden of proof would be and why some of the other options were not considered.

“I was not given a reason why a course was not offered, however, I suspect it rarely is for a first offence,” Steve said.

“A fixed penalty for careless driving was not considered as this offence must be witnessed, in person, by a police officer for the FPN to be issued.

“The officer couldn’t tell me whether this was actual law or force policy [we suspect the latter – ed], but gave the example that red-light runners could not be issued a FPN from camera footage either, they had to be taken to court too.

“He agreed that this seemed at odds with the ability for speeding offences to be dealt with out of court based on retrospective photo evidence.”

“We had a good discussion about the chances of the police witnessing a close pass on a cyclist being minuscule, and that no matter the penalty, such a low probability of getting caught offered little deterrent.

So, we are really only left with court as the course of action,” Steve continued. “He told me in the three years he’d been working in traffic at Thames Valley Police, there had only been one case taken to court that he was aware of.

“He told me that was very bad as it was at high speed. I suspect it was one of my submissions (NMotD 309), which, granted, does have the shock factor.

“This leaves me a little underwhelmed,” Steve said. “Hopefully, this driver will now be more careful as his card has been marked. But if you encounter his bad driving, please report it!

“There does seem to be some room for improvement in the service the police are able to provide to victims of road crime,” he added.

“The current all-or-nothing approach is clearly not working, so perhaps something to bring up with the local police and crime commissioner. The police just need the ability to issue FPNs retrospectively for careless driving offences.”

> Near Miss of the Day turns 100 - Why do we do the feature and what have we learnt from it?

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’ve 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 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.

> What to do if you capture a near miss or close pass (or worse) on camera while cycling

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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