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Near Miss of the Day 825: Police refuse to prosecute because cyclist swore after driver pulled out on him

It's déjà vu in this edition of Near Miss of the Day, as a cyclist who was nearly hit by a driver pulling out of a side road was told no prosecution will happen because of his conduct...

*Warning: clip contains very strong language*

In today's Near Miss of the Day, a cyclist who reacted angrily when he was almost hit by a driver pulling out from a side road was told police would not be prosecuting because of his conduct in the aftermath of the incident. Believe it or not, this isn't the first time we've featured a story about camera submissions where swearing was cited as the reason for police refusing to take action. 

road.cc reader Stephen says he cycles to work regularly in and around Peterborough, and has been on the receiving end of "many" near misses. 

Stephen told us more about the incident and his dealings with Cambridgeshire Police, saying: "I apologised for the swearing but I was angry and shocked that the motorist would put my life at risk just to save a few seconds. I also don't know how to 'beep' them out [of the footage]. This turned out to be my downfall...

"On submitting this to the police they stated that due to me swearing at the woman, after she nearly caused an accident, they will not prosecute her!

"I have never heard anything so ridiculous and in future must thank them for nearly killing me if there is to be a chance of action being taken against them.

"Sorry about the swearing but I was angry and frightened by [the driver]." 

road.cc has contacted Cambridgeshire Constabulary for comment. 

Back in May of last year, road.cc was told by Gwent Police that if a cyclist submits footage of bad driving under its Operation Snap initiative, the cyclist themself could face prosecution if they can be heard swearing in the footage. 

Cyclist Nick Thompson, whose footage led to the original story on road.cc, was told by the Crown Prosecution Service that “there is no general rule against prosecuting cases where victims or witnesses can be shown to have used bad language.”

DCS Andy Cox, head of crime and intelligence in Lincolnshire and the national lead for fatal collision investigation reporting, told road.cc: "I believe we should review every matter in its individual sense; eg if there has been dangerous or reckless driving this should be reviewed in the context of the driving (eg in isolation to other matters).

"That said; any offensive or intimidatory behaviour should also be reviewed and where appropriate enforcement action progressed against any relevant party; even if that person has been impacted by sub standard driving.

"Offensive and intimidatory behaviour only enhances the danger on our roads and all parties should remain respectful towards each other as that is the best way to maintain safe and sensible travel."

> 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

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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72 comments

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Tom_77 | 1 year ago
1 like

FWIW, this is the traffic regulation relating to Give Way lines:

"no vehicle shall proceed past such one of those lines as is nearer the major road into that road in a manner or at a time likely to endanger the driver of or any passenger in a vehicle on the major road or to cause the driver of such a vehicle to change its speed or course in order to avoid an accident."

So if the cyclist has to brake or swerve to avoid an accident, then the driver is guilty?

I can understand the police taking the position that the swearing makes a prosecution more difficult. If there are limited resources then it's probably reasonable not to prosecute, I hope they've at least sent the driver a letter though.

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wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
6 likes

having looked at the video I can only file this as rude, rather than dangerous. The sort of thing that often happens to me when i am driving, which I have to remind myself when I'm cycling.

It's not ant cyclist, it's often just impatient, or poor driving. 

The fact the cyclist passes behind the emerging car suggest that was plenty of time to react, and no real prospect of riding into the side of the car.

Did the driver fail to give way? yes

Do we see drivers edging out into traffic many times every day? yes

thereofre was this worse than 'typical' driving. I.e. noticeably worse than the average driver? no

I wouldn't even submit.

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Awavey replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
4 likes

I had one today but from a right hand side junction, and you get that weird bit where they actually  feel like they are about to T-bone you as they make the turn to drive alongside you for a bit as they veer closer to the kerb, till they floor the accelerator, I just sigh and carry on.  Id spend all my time just submitting videos if I bothered reporting half the stuff I get on the roads sometimes.

 

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Colin Peyresourde replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes

Agree to some extent. The initiative was completely lost by the swearing.

It was inconsiderate driving, but the very fact he didn't hit the car and suffered no injury means that it is a drop in the ocean of poor driving.

This was no worse than the horrendous driving I witnessed this weekend. A driver attempted to overtake at faster than the speed limit going into a narrowing at a bridge. I heard it coming and predicted that a car was coming and took the necessary action to avoid an RTA but it was utterly mindless driving. Which is also predictable that I was enveloped by a waft of weed coming from the car.

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Dogless | 1 year ago
9 likes

For people whose job it is to deal with angry, irrational people, police really are weirdly sensitive to bad language.

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wycombewheeler replied to Dogless | 1 year ago
2 likes

Dogless wrote:

For people whose job it is to deal with angry, irrational people, police really are weirdly sensitive to bad language.

they are also strangely sensative to being sterotpyed, considering how they profile their 'customers'

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chrisonatrike | 1 year ago
4 likes

Watching again.  What I think are "facts" - doesn't seem to be a particularly high speed by the cyclist here.  Cyclist and white car appear to have good mutual visibility.  At the start the cyclist is fairly far to the left (seems to be a head cam), the dark car overtakes them but appears to be slowing (brake lights?) even at that point seeing the queue ahead.

Speculation: it wasn't SMIDSY as much as the driver saw the black car pass the cyclist quickly and thought they had time to nose out behind them.  They then failed to make further observation and spot the cyclist hadn't slowed and / or mentally calculated  "it's a cyclist - I've got time".

I don't think that positioning would have made much difference.  I do think if you were paying close attention (which isn't always the case, let's be honest) you could have suspected what might happen and slowed slightly further before.  It looks like this chap kept on trucking, thinking to filter down the side of the queue.  However it was a late move by the car - about a second and a half before he was on it?  I have experienced several of "failures to stop" from side roads and know that you've got respond quickly.

I hope I'd have chalked this up to experience.  This could be interpreted as someone with trigger control issues although I do appreciate this might have been the nth time in a short ride he'd experienced poor driving.  If someone does something stupid in front of me I tend to keep my Klingon battle greetings to myself (I love videos where crap driving is greeted with a confident "oh, saucy!" or "Hello sailor!") although I've certainly had words with drivers behind / alongside me.  Removing the sound wouldn't have helped his cause that much - although his choice of words would be a gift to a lawyer - since a) he twice rides up alongside and clearly stops to remonstrate (once filtering past another car to do so) and b) EDIT you can see him bang on the car.

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brooksby | 1 year ago
2 likes

Have finally watched the video.

#justacyclistinnit

(and that's *at best*, and assuming that the driver had even seen Mr Sweary)

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Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
5 likes

I pass this on for interest, not to start an argument: I showed this to a visiting lawyer friend last night, she said that if she were defending she would put to the court that the cyclist's extreme reaction (her words) demonstrated that he was in an aggressive frame of mind already and looking for trouble and that he could have braked earlier, basically that the cyclist had deliberately turned a minor error into a major incident.

I'm not saying that this is the case, just it's interesting to know the way a legal professional would see it; possibly this influenced the police decision when weighing up the reasonable chance of conviction odds.

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HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
5 likes

So the defence admits the motorist breached a give way and forced the cyclist to take avoiding action. A clear admission of careless driving!

The question now is could the cyclist have reacted sooner? Well, I'd like to think I could have braked in time, but if distracted by something just momentarily, such as a navigation prompt on my cycling computer or a tailgating driver, maybe not.

As for the cyclists outburst, maybe they were not in an aggressive frame of mind, but feeling very vulnerable having suffered a culmination of close calls prior to this incident. Primarily due to the general poor standard of driving on our roads (and the failure of our justice system to tackle it) and this event trigged a surge of adrenaline!

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Awavey replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
0 likes

Theyd present it as the driver made an honest mistake,for which theyd humbly apologised to the court, and would have to the cyclist at the scene if they hadnt felt so threatened by their behaviour, lone women driving also still feel quite vulnerable when men start physically hitting their cars and shouting abuse at them.

And they might if they were particularly laying it on, also point out the cyclist should be riding at a speed they can safely stop within in an emergency anyway

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hawkinspeter replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
7 likes

Awavey wrote:

And they might if they were particularly laying it on, also point out the cyclist should be riding at a speed they can safely stop within in an emergency anyway

It's more that cyclists/drivers should be travelling so that they can stop within the distance they can see to be clear. Having a vehicle suddenly pull out, creating a hazard isn't something that drivers/cyclists have to plan for (that would mean slowing at every single junction and driveway when travelling straight ahead) although I do try to anticipate that when cycling.

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brooksby replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
5 likes

Like when you approach the back of a traffic queue, seeing that you have thirty or forty feet clear, and then some person in a Golf (for some reason it's usually a golf in my experience...) overtakes you a slots into that gap, leaving you five to ten feet instead...

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IanMSpencer replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like

I was acquainted with the late Kevin Ash who was the motorcycle correspondent for the Torygraph. He said that's exactly what he did riding his motorbike, assume that at every junction the driver will ignore you - it just hurts too much when drivers crash into you not to.

As I said earlier, the mistake is to think these are anti-cycling moves, the driver most likely would have pulled out on a car, expecting it to have time to avoid them. Plenty of people have the reverse priority - I'm at a give way, polite drivers should let me out (even if I haven't been waiting and they are stuck in a slow queue) therefore I don't need to give way because they are wrong for not letting me in.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

Had a discussion with the other half the other week that basically went exactly like this... when I mentioned that when a car overtakes a cyclist in urban traffic, it reduces the cyclists visibility of what is directly infront and to the right of them. She was adamant that the cyclist in all cases should immediately adjust speed / position to ensure sufficient visibility is maintained. 

When I highlighted that doing so meant that urban travel would be impossible she shrugged her shoulders and said so be it. 

When I then asked if the same was expected in urban travel by motorists when travelling on dual lane roads, and cars overtake in the right lane... she said absolutely not.

And, she couldn't see anything wrong with the dual standards she was advocating.  

Gotta love it

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hawkinspeter replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
1 like

That's totally the wrong way round as usually cyclists have much better visibility than drivers (higher up and not constrained by roof and pillars).

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HoarseMann replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
4 likes

Yep, it's a sad state of affairs when drivers fear getting fined for parking infringements more than driving carelessly around cyclists.

Minor traffic offences like this should not need a full court case debate. It should be easier to hand out a penalty for this sort of infraction.

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Gus T replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
5 likes

So the visiting lawers 1st response is to blame the victim, do they do this in every case or just cyclists? 

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Donaldp replied to Gus T | 1 year ago
8 likes

A defending lawyer will blame anyone and everyone but thier client.

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Rendel Harris replied to Gus T | 1 year ago
8 likes

Gus T wrote:

So the visiting lawers 1st response is to blame the victim, do they do this in every case or just cyclists? 

No, it wasn't her "first response", I asked her what she would do if she was defending the driver. I also asked her what she would do if she was prosecuting and she said it's an academic question as on the evidence from this video the CPS would never take this one to court as it would be viewed as a minor driver error that didn't seriously threaten anything but an inconvenience to the cyclist.

Don't shoot me down for this (well you can if you like, free country), I'm just passing on the opinion of a professional lawyer for interest.

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miekwidnes replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
0 likes

So - lets just change the the offense

Well melud the woman's reaction to her boyfriend hitting her clearly shows that she was in a aggressive frame of mind at the time and hence generated the assault that caused the bruises and fractures

 

shouldn;t work - but I can believe it would

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Rendel Harris replied to miekwidnes | 1 year ago
4 likes

miekwidnes wrote:

So - lets just change the the offense

No, let's not. Let's look at the case rationally and logically instead of drawing a false equivalence with a completely different and far more serious offence for emotional value. 

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Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
4 likes

Just like to thank road.cc for asking the police for a comment. I look forward to reading the response.

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grOg | 1 year ago
6 likes

Completely nonsensical policing; choosing to not prosecute a driving offender because a cyclist committed a separate offence afterwards is a laughable conflation; both circumstances should be dealt with on their individual merits.

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ejocs | 1 year ago
8 likes

There are a lot of reasons cyclists shouldn't swear at motorists (for one, it's highly unlikely to do any good; for another, it doesn't help our public image, which, rightly or wrongly, isn't a good one), but let's be very clear: it is completely and utterly irrelevant here.

Criminal/public safety law is not about private disputes between two individuals. It is about protecting society from behavior that threatens the public welfare. Yes, there is often an individual victim who was immediately harmed or threatened with harm, but that is just a detail; conceptually and legally speaking, the real victim is society as a whole, which is threatened with continuing future harm if the offender is not dealt with effectively. Indeed, that is why cases are prosecuted by the state, as the representive of the whole society, rather than by individual victims representing themselves. The (putatively) bad behavior of the individual victim after the fact doesn't change the threat that the offender represents to the society, and so it should have absolutely nothing to do with the way the offender is handled by the state as the representative of the society.

Let's say that again for those in back not paying attention: The (putatively) bad behavior of the individual victim after the fact doesn't change the threat that the offender represents to the society, and so it should have absolutely nothing to do with the way the offender is handled by the state as the representative of the society.

If a cyclist were to bring a civil case and the state were to invoke some sort of clean hands or morality doctrine to deny him relief based on his unforgivable use of dirty words, that's another matter. But, when it comes to matters of public safety, the police are completely fucking this up.

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NOtotheEU replied to ejocs | 1 year ago
14 likes

A very well presented and convincing argument. 

Hold on, you swore at the end. I am now forced to ignore the facts and have decided this is simply the rantings of a lunatic and not to be taken at all seriously.

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Muddy Ford | 1 year ago
5 likes

There is a simple solution to sweary cyclists when their lives are threatened with a 2 ton lump of metal. Police should stop f@@@ng being total c''ts to cyclists by ignoring or dismissing evidence of dangerous M**F***g  behaviour and start prosecuting the w'krs so they learn to f**ng drive safely or lose their licences permanently. Then perhaps we might be more civil and turn the other cheek to be slapped with vehicle. 

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Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
9 likes

Removing audio from a video is easy; most of them will have a timeline that you drag the video in to, and this will split in to a video line and an audio line.
Just click "mute" on the audio line, or right click on the video line and click mute.
Davinci  (free, and bloody excellent) also has a seperate mute button.

If you are going to mute a video, do it before you add any titles, transitions or cuts as this will ensure the *whole* video is muted

### better video editors than me exist ... just trying to be helpful ####

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pasley69 replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
0 likes

Or maybe edit the audio to something like: "Oh, I say, I do think that was a little too close. Next time would it be possible to leave a little more space. Not wishing to cause offense of course but my bicycle might have caused a scratch to your vehicle."

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IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
6 likes

Not one I would have bothered submitting - you could see they were going to pull out all day long, typical cyclists don't count move, but on the grand scale of things I would have settled for a bit of a rant and moved on with my life.

Definitely one for defensive cycling live another day, however much the driver was in the wrong.

Meanwhile, I really can't face editing my video submission of my so close the rider behind thought I had been hit close pass which apparently wasn't enough evidence for the review team at Leicester (though they had sent an NIP to the driver).

I really think we need a concerted effort to get the police to come up with a credible set of criteria across the country for what meets the bar for an offence - because clearly most NMOTDs meet the theoretical test of driving offences, yet such a small proportion get through to action. I'm happy to help the police by only submitting the most serious offences (and I would not count this one as meeting the bar given the general standard of driving that we get, regardless of whether we are cycling, driving or walking) , but when that critieria is met, we should expect the police to make a reasonable effort to progress the report, and give reasonable feedback - it is important to know justice is being done and the trend towards silence is concerning.

Ages ago, I proposed we should have a national agency, civilian staffed but under the watchful eye of the police, to deal with these reports. I would think it would be self-funding.

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