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Near Miss of the Day 821: Close pass driver fined for careless driving – but should the charge have been dangerous driving?

Our regular series featuring close passes from around the country - today it's Avon & Somerset...

A cyclist who got a close pass at speed from a driver says he is “happy” with the outcome after police investigated the incident, with the motorist having fined almost £400 after admitting driving without due care and attention – although some people commenting on social media have wondered why he was not charged with the more serious offence of dangerous driving.

The incident happened last November with road.cc reader Guy being the cyclist on the receiving end, and Avon & Somerset Police tweeted the outcome of the case, which saw the driver fined £384, ordered to pay £110 costs and a £34 victim surcharge, as well as having their driving licence endorsed with three penalty points after admitting driving without due care and attention.

Guy told us: “I do remember as I cycled up to the roundabout the card driver beeped his horn at me, so I was half-expecting something. I didn’t expect such an exceptionally close pass though.”

He continued: “What’s interesting from the Twitter thread is the views that the driver should have been charged with dangerous rather than careless driving.”

The latter is defined by law as being committed when the standard of driving “falls below the minimum standard expected of a competent and careful driver, and includes driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.”

Dangerous driving, meanwhile, is defined as being committed when the standard of driving “falls far below the minimum standard expected of a competent and careful driver, and includes behaviour that could potentially endanger yourself or other drivers.”

The Crown Prosecution Service makes its decision on which offence someone suspected to have committed a crime should be charged with on whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction.

That is one reason why, particularly in driving cases, the lesser offence of careless driving is chosen, rather than the more serious one of dangerous driving – although as one commenter on the thread pointed out, that is largely the result of a legal process that is in urgent need of reform.

Guy himself added: “I’m happy with the outcome, enforcement is the biggest deterrent and I think Avon and Somerset Police are a leading constabulary in the fight against road danger.”

> 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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