Justice for CyclistsFebruary 17, 2014
With many cyclists being injured on our roads, road casualties can and should be prevented. One of the ways in which roads could be made safer is to ensure that at fault drivers are prosecuted. This is in turn acts as a deterrent to other drivers and sends out the message that dangerous and negligent driving is unacceptable. If drivers are not prosecuted for their actions then there is nothing to stop them continuing to drive in an irresponsible manner.
Being a personal injury solicitor I deal with many road traffic incidents which involve cyclists, and unfortunately from my experience, the sad truth is that in the vast majority of cases the police take no action against the responsible driver. In fact, even in some cases the police have failed to investigate the incident at all having taken no statements from the parties involved or independent witnesses.
If you were a cyclist involved in a road traffic incident where the police have failed to investigate the accident and/or failed to take any action against the driver where clearly it is appropriate to do so in the circumstances, then I strongly advise that you make a formal complaint. If no complaints are made then there is no incentive for the police to change their practice. However, if complaints are made in every circumstance where this occurs, and from my experience this is in the vast majority of cycling incidents, then hopefully this will assist in highlighting the issue and encouraging change.
On some occasions, the police will send the driver on a Driver Awareness Course. When this occurs, the driver is not charged with a criminal offence, it does not result in a conviction and the driver does not face any form of criminal penalty. However, when a driver has committed a criminal offence by driving irresponsibly, which results in some one being injured, surely they should be treated accordingly and face the consequences of their actions. You have to question whether the driver merely being sent on a course is justice for the victim in the circumstances and appropriate punishment and deterrent for the driver. There are circumstances where this is appropriate for example where no injury has been caused. However, from my experience I can’t help but feel that the police often resort to this as an easy way of dealing with the matter.
It appears that the justice system is failing to ensure safety on our roads by not taking road traffic offences seriously. This issue needs to be highlighted in order to promote a change in the police’s processes when dealing with these accidents.