Careless driving injustice

Careless driving injustice

I was knocked off my bike, causing minor injuries, when a car turned right across my path at a crossroads. This was seen by a witness, who gave a statement. But the police response has been unsatisfactory. Initially, they would not record it as an injury accident.

When they did investigate the matter, I was told that they would not be taking any action against the driver because I had not been using a nearby cycle track. They also said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the driver. What would be enough evidence?

Name and address supplied.

In my experience, the police and/or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) often fail to take proceedings against motorists, unless the actions of the motorist have resulted in death or serious personal injuries to the cyclist involved. Even in serious cases, the CPS may not allocate resources to prosecute a motoring offence. They will do so only if they consider that they have a good chance of a conviction.

In the criminal courts, the CPS have to prove their case ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. This is a high burden of proof and it is often difficult to convince magistrates or a jury. To prove a case of careless driving, the prosecution needs to prove that the standard of driving fell below what would be expected of ‘a competent and careful driver’. To prove a case of dangerous driving, the prosecution need to prove that the standard of driving fell ‘far below’ what would be expected such a driver ‘and that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous’.

In this case, I see no reason why the prosecution cannot be pursued. The fact that the Cycling UK member was not using a nearby cycle track is irrelevant. What is at issue here is the standard of driving of the motorist and not the actions of the injured cyclist. It is worth complaining to the police and the CPS in an effort to persuade them to reconsider their decision not to prosecute the motorist.

In any event, it is worth pursuing a civil claim against the motorist through the Cycling UK legal services scheme. The limitation period for pursuing personal injury claim is three years from the date of the accident. Call the Cycling UK Accident Line on 0844 736 8452.

Paul Kitson

 

This was first published in the April / May 2013 edition of Cycle magazine.

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