Cycling UK gives evidence to road justice inquiry
A new inquiry into the road justice framework and its impact on people cycling and walking was launched yesterday by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking (APPGCW). The inquiry will reflect on progress since the group’s 2017 report on ‘Cycling and the Justice System’ and consider what more needs to be done to protect vulnerable road users.
Alongside lawyers, police and other road safety organisations, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore gave evidence to the cross-party group of MPs. He highlighted that although some positive progress has been made since 2017, the wider road traffic offences and penalties framework – which the Government promised to review back in 2014 – remains deeply flawed and in urgent need of review.
Six years on – progress, problems and potential
The 2017 inquiry – which Cycling UK also responded to – made 14 recommendations to prevent collisions and ensure justice where injury has occurred.
Giving evidence to the new inquiry, Mr Dollimore told MPs that progress had been made against a number of these, including with the updated Highway Code, introduced in 2022. However, to maximise the potential safety benefits for people walking and cycling significantly more work needs to be done to effectively communicate and educate the public on the changes.
Similarly, at the time of the 2017 report, new legislation intended to address potentially spurious ‘whiplash’ claims threatened to make it harder for cyclists and pedestrians to claim compensation after a collision. Successful campaigning by Cycling UK and others ensured this was avoided.
While there’s more to be done to ensure consistency across police forces in their handling of dash- and helmet-cam evidence, significant progress has been made compared to 2017, when only a small handful of forces had dedicated systems to handle these reports.
Yet despite these positive steps, the overall picture remains one of a failing road justice system, which Cycling UK’s 2021 report ‘Five Flaws: Failing Laws’ highlighted.
Politicians from across the political spectrum owe it to their constituents to come together and take action to ensure our increasingly outdated traffic offences are fit for the 2020s and beyond
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK head of campaigns
In his evidence, Mr Dollimore highlighted that disqualification remained a widely underused penalty for those guilty of traffic offences. Too many drivers are back behind the wheel after putting lives a risk – a view which was echoed Met Police Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox.
Questioned on the road traffic offences framework, Mr Dollimore noted that Government still hasn’t fulfilled its 2014 commitment to reviewing the framework. He emphasised that tinkering with rules relating to cycling offences, e-scooters and automated vehicles, without addressing core issues with the road traffic offences framework, would only further confuse the system. Instead, he said, a holistic, cross-party and cross-departmental approach is needed to create a road traffic offences framework fit for the present day.
Other areas lacking in progress include the current 14-day time limit for police to issue a Notice of Intended Prosecution for most road traffic offences. This poses a significant barrier to actioning third-party video reports, as minor processing delays can easily scupper the chances of prosecution.
Duncan Dollimore said: “The APPGCW’s 2017 report into road justice provided a catalyst for action and we’ve seen genuine, positive progress against a number of key recommendations. However, as we approach almost 10 years since the Government promised to review road traffic offences, this new inquiry couldn’t be more timely.
“Road safety affects everyone, and politicians from across the political spectrum owe it to their constituents to come together and take action to ensure our increasingly outdated traffic offences are fit for the 2020s and beyond.”