Cycling UK calls for failings in road traffic law to be fixed

Scales of justice
Photo: Shutterstock
Cycling UK’s report outlining how and why the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill must tackle five failings of Britain’s road traffic laws has been published today

Cycling UK’s Five Flaws: Failing Laws report outlines why the UK urgently needs the wider review of road traffic offences and penalties first promised in 2014 by the then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Cycling UK, road safety and road victims’ charities have now waited years and years for this, and are still waiting.

The wide-ranging Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill includes some limited changes to road traffic laws, but many MPs have raised concerns about its other aspects. This presents an opportunity for MPs to table and support amendments which could address five fundamental flaws with those laws.

Cycling UK’s proposed amendments were produced in collaboration with our partners Living Streets, British Cycling, RoadPeace and the Road Danger Reduction Forum, in the context of a wider call for the government to keep its promise and launch a full review of road traffic laws and penalties.

The RAC Foundation, road safety charity Brake, the AA, the RAC, and PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) have also supported the need for a wider review of road traffic laws.

The cycling charity’s Five Flaws report illustrates how amendments to the Bill could address:

The report outlines how these changes could reduce the danger on our roads and benefit all road users, but especially vulnerable road users.

Commenting on the need for these changes, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore said: “The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB) now before Parliament does propose changes to maximum sentences for certain offences, plus one new road traffic offence, but nothing to address some of the fatal flaws in our road traffic laws.

“We require a framework for dealing with road traffic offences that takes dangerous drivers off the roads, prioritises the reduction of danger on those roads and considers irresponsible and dangerous driving both objectively and consistently. It’s time to fix the fatal flaws in our road traffic laws.”

It’s time to fix the fatal flaws in our road traffic laws

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns Cycling UK

MPs will have a chance to discuss and table amendments to the PCSB at the report stage, which is expected to be in early July.

Member of Parliament for Exeter Ben Bradshaw is expected to table two amendments, with one calling for tougher sanctions in hit and run cases where people flee the scene of a collision where they know, or ought to know, that they’ve seriously hurt or filled someone. The second will look to close the exceptional hardship loophole.

Cycling UK is writing to every MP with a copy of the report, urging them to support amendments to the Bill.

Every year around 1,700 people are killed and 26,000 seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Britain, and this remains the biggest killer of young people aged 5-29. As Cycling UK points out in its report the consequences of road crime should matter to all MPs, as every one of them will have constituents affected by it.

Arguing that it’s time to treat road crime as real crime, Duncan Dollimore added: “We often hear calls for certain crimes to be taken seriously, for more enforcement and tougher penalties. But too often many of us take a different approach to road crime. It isn’t always seen as real crime.

“For the families of those who’ve died in road collisions, the apparent tolerance of road crime is baffling because they live with the consequences of someone else’s bad driving. They deserve road traffic laws and associated penalties that are clear, objective, consistently applied, and prioritise road danger reduction.”

The appendix to the report includes a timeline showing years of delay in progressing the promised review of traffic offences and penalties. Cycling UK maintains this is needed now more than ever, but after seven years without substantive progress, the charity wants MPs to seize the opportunity the Bill presents to fix the fatal flaws in our road traffic laws, without further delay.