CTC launched the Road Justice campaign, which is sponsored by Slater & Gordon Lawyers, to urge the police, prosecutors and courts to put policies and practices in place which demonstrate that bad driving is taken seriously and actively discouraged. This document examines the role of roads policing in keeping cyclists safe and ensuring irresponsible drivers are brought to justice.
Every police force, serious collision investigation unit and road safety partnership has also been sent the report.
The launch of the report follows recently released figures from the Department for Transport, showing cycle serious injuries and deaths up 5% in 2012 against the previous year, whilst overall roads policing has been cut by 29% over the last decade.
The report contains 8 case studies of cyclists who suffered serious injuries. Their personal stories illustrate some of the all-too-common failings of roads policing in the aftermath of road collisions. These 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. Many more case studies, highlighting additional problems, are on the Road Justice website.
CTC’s Road Justice Campaigner Rhia Weston said,
“Time and again we hear stories of cyclists who have suffered life changing injuries in collisions with motor vehicles, but who have had to fight to get drivers brought to justice. It is paramount that collision investigations are investigated thoroughly to ensure road crash victims get justice and 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 improve roads policing and collision investigations.”
The report presented to Police and Crime Commissioners today tells some tragic stories, including Dan Black’s from Chepstow. Dan was left tri-plegic following a collision with a car driver in 2009. CTC believe the police spectacularly failed to deliver justice: their report made no mention of the driver’s illegal manoeuvre immediately before the collision, nor had they 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’.
Police and Crime Commissioners will be asked to pledge to implement the recommendations that are within their remit in CTC’s Road Justice Campaign:
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.
Resources and Training:
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.