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Drivers Fined For Driving Too Close To Cyclists

This entry was posted in Road Traffic Law on by .

Taking up the lion’s share of the road is most drivers’ prerogative but under a new government review, drivers who refuse to give other road users a wide berth could see themselves landing fines and official charges of driving offences.

The review comes as The Department for Transport released its provisional figures for pedestrian and cyclist casualties in 2017. The report showed a 4% increase in pedestrian casualties compared to 2016’s statistics, with 24, 540 pedestrian casualties logged. Of this number, 6,270 (26%) were killed or left with serious injuries.

Cyclists were also found to be at risk on UK roads. The same Department for Transport report counted 18, 450 cyclist casualties, of which 3,750 – that’s 20% – were killed or seriously injured.

Calls for new measures to protect cyclists have been ongoing for many years. As part of a similar campaign in 2015, Olympian Chris Boardman starred in an industry-funded video stating: “People on bicycles are flesh and blood, they’re mums and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.”

Similarly, penalty-type measures to increase safety on UK roads have been considered by government since The Department for Transport’s 2016 report on pedestrian and cyclist deaths and casualties. Now, the government is looking into officially acting on some of the suggestions raised by the department, not least because of the increased use of helmet cams, which make it much easier to identify drivers who flout the rules of the road.

One such suggestion has been to count certain road-user behaviour as offences, in order to clamp down on casualties caused by aggressive or inattentive behaviour. These behaviours include:

  • Straying into cycle stop boxes at traffic lights
  • Driving too close to cyclists
  • Failure to give cyclists priority at left turns
  • “Car dooring”

“Car dooring” in particular has been looked into. This dangerous practice sees cyclists being thrown from their bikes by vehicle drivers swinging their doors open into to the road without due care and attention.

Despite the Highway Code calling for drivers to leave “plenty of room” for other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, the full review is expected to set an official minimum measurement to widen the gap between vehicle and cyclist. This measurement will most likely be set after a “call for evidence”, and would see the UK joining countries like Germany, who have a minimum set distance between drivers and cyclists of 1m (3.28’) on roads with speed limits of up to 30mph. On roads with higher speed limits, this space increases to 1.5m (4.9’).

In order to keep cyclists safe and to cover all bases, the government is also considering a review to make the use of bike helmets compulsory.

These reviews are expected to commence in June 2018, with a full government response expected by late summer. Until then, drivers are advised to continue to use their best judgement and give other road users the space they need on the roads, to avoid accidents and casualties.

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