I now have a letter (here and here) from an Acting Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor which essentially reiterates the rejection of my complaint by the District Crown Prosecutor. The Acting Deputy Chief says that 'there is no evidence that Mr Stead's error of judgment was so substantial that it caused the driving to be dangerous'. So there is now a total of 4 prosecutors who do not appear to recognise that attempting an overtake that could not be carried out safely and failing to have a safe and proper regard for vulnerable road users are not merely evidence of dangerous driving but are 'likely to be characterised as dangerous driving' according to their own guidance.
There is no explanation from the CPS as to when an 'error of judgment' (nice comforting description of bad driving) is 'so substantial' (big, big hurdle implied) that it causes driving to be dangerous. Even directed specifically to their own guidance, drafted in large part to deal with undercharging, the CPS en bloc substitute their own motor-centric ideas of 'errors of judgment' needing to be 'so substantial' etc. This was not a case of momentary inattention or distraction, Mr Stead chose to try to pass me on my bicycle with his very massive HGV on a narrow road when traffic was coming the other way. It was a deliberate act.
It will not surprise you that I am not happy with this letter and have now written to the DPP here
Friday, 12 April 2013
Dangerous or Careless - An Update
Posted by Martin Porter at 18:07
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You continue, Martin, to do cyclists in general a great service with your committment to tackling the police on these issues.ReplyDelete
If you are ever tempted to move to New York, where I moved last August, and to turn your attention to the even more negligent NYPD and New York prosecutors' attitude to cyclists, I am sure we would be lining up outside immigration at JFK to greet you.
The law needs changing to make these BUFFOONS take the issue seriously.ReplyDelete
The Europeans seem to do better. What does European law say about this, and could we as cyclists use it?
And if these *deliberate* manoeuvres go wrong, then the driver claims total innocence. Good character, clean driving license, family man, terrible mistake blah blah blah....ReplyDelete
And same thing. Road user dead, drivers not disincentivized on BIT from performing reckless manoeuvres.
There's NO incentive to drive well in the UK.
As usual, keep up the good work Martin,ReplyDelete
Dr. Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum
With your Daily exposure to traffic conditions as you commute and your Legal Knowledge , there is little doubt with the majority of Cyclists , that yours is the voice of reason !ReplyDelete
For those that sit in an office reading your submissions , you pose a threat to the status quo and their " Comfort Zone "! That you have suffered injury , due to others" incompetence" on the roads , is not visible to them . We , your readers do not count , we are an interruption to their day , rather than their "Reason Etre " .
Even riding the quieter roads in Europe , i see and hear the " ire " of impatient motorists . It amazes me , to see Dutch Number Plates , frequently making more difficulty , even though they are supposedly on " holiday ". They have cycle paths at home , the envy of most other countries , yet no tolerance for cyclists .
Would there be any way that the " DPP " can be alerted to the fact that they are dealing with an " Intelligent , Considered Submission " rather than an ordinary member of the Public , with an " axe to grind "?
From what I've read of the Dutch system it works in large part because they have designed it to eliminate opportunities for conflict rather than because Dutch drivers are particularly angelic.Delete
One of the reasons we are in such dire straits is because too often we let them trample over decency.
Your persistence is example for us all: it is often tempting to give up, but it is a moral imperative to persevere until this violence is rooted out of our society.
Top marks for top effort.ReplyDelete
Having has a 'near death experience' with a truck doing much the same I am with you on this one.
The fundamental issue is the very low standard that a reasonable driver seems expected to achieve in law in the view of the CPS.ReplyDelete
I've been doing the IAM Advanced Driver course. It has not been arduous or difficult to modify my driving technique to get to a level that is apparently adequate to meet their standard. Essentially, the main safety requirement is to be excellent in observation and planning, but this is not difficult to do. There are other factors about car control, but in the normal day to day context of driving, well within the limits of a modern car, we need not concern ourselves with. In other words, the Advanced Driving course is a misnomer - it is the standard of driving that any reasonable driver should expect to achieve.
It seems that the CPS believe that the standard required is that of a barely competent driver - that mistakes and misjudgements are a normal and reasonable part of driving.
It seems to me that the obvious thing to do is that the level of driving standard to be aimed at is that described within the Advanced Driving course or Roadcraft should be the standard against which all driving is judged.
Simple example: you should not drive around a corner faster than the distance you can see allows you to stop. In terms of overtaking it says "Never make risky overtakes, if in doubt, stay back." "Is there sufficient clear road to carry out the manoeuvre safely?"
I think the road using community should be asking why the CPS have such a low expectation of driver ability when achieving a better standard is not unduly onerous. It creates the impression that the CPS are poor drivers themselves and are using their personal views (potentially with a bias against cyclists if I were cynical), and would suggest that they seek expert advice on the matter from the appropriate people, be they the police or other qualified instructors. Perhaps as an addendum to your complaint you could suggest that they seek that expert opinion.
Thanks for taking the time and effort to highlight the plight of the vulnerable road user. Hopefully you realise how appreciative your followers/readers/fellow commuters are!ReplyDelete
I rather suspect that if there were a mandatory requirement for all CPS staff to cycle to work every day, their interpretation of 'careless' and 'dangerous' would change.ReplyDelete
Thank you Martin for your dogged pursuit of this matter.ReplyDelete
It is a wonder to me how professional drivers can get away with multiple convictions for bad/dangerous driving. In my job as copy-editor I am expected to have (much) better than average spelling and grammar skills. Should those skills drop below that level, I am out of a job, and without killing or endangering anyone.
Thank you, again, Martin for continuing to push for sensible action from our legal system when people's lives are put in danger by others taking excessive risks.ReplyDelete
As a society we are very quick to punish people who verbally threaten someone else, who carry knifes, or who are careless with guns. But we have an unexplained blind spot when the threat comes from motor vehicles. We have become too accustomed to the daily carnage on our nation's roads.
Martin, thank you for your efforts. I appreciate them a great deal.ReplyDelete
Yes to all the other people who are really appreciative of your determination, Martin. Keep up the good work!!!ReplyDelete
Regrettably as a (albeit voluntary) police officer my comment must remain anonymous, suffice to say the very best of luck to you and keep fighting the good fight on behalf of cyclists, we need leaders like yourself.ReplyDelete
One quibble with something you assert though. "The police...are as surprised as I am at the outcome of the case." I would say this is inaccurate. They might be too polite to say it, but I don't think many police officers would be surprised by ANY level of ineptitude or spinelessless from the CPS.
If a worker operated machinery in a factory in a manner that was negligent and endangered or injured or killed others the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)would investigate and prosecutions of the individual and the company, and in some instances the managers would be sure to follow. Why is it then that workers who drive machinery on the highway in a manner that endangers injures or kills others is not investigated by the HSE? Companies have regard (fear) for the sanctions that the HSE can impose. It would go a long way in improving the standards of so called professional drivers.ReplyDelete
Let's be honest, Martin. The CPS got Stead to plead guilty to the lesser charge purely to save the cost of a trial. Everyone's a winner - the CPS secure a conviction, Stead gets a lighter sentence and the Exchequer saves money. It's all about money not morality.ReplyDelete
You should get a medal for all you do to fight the cyclist's cornerReplyDelete
Nice blog & thank you for fighting the cyclists corner. I am a cyclist of 30+ years & asides from heavy shopping trips with my wife, cycle everywhere.ReplyDelete
Now for the "bad" news, depending of course on which way it's viewed! I'm a lorry driver & on many a single carriageway, will not overtake a cyclist if traffic is heavy. Just because of several selfish drivers, do not tar us all with the same brush.
Have seen many irresponsible & stupid incidents by car owners & unfortunately, some very crazy stunts by cyclists, especially in London.
Not 'bad news' at all. I wish every lorry driver were a cyclist, it would solve a lot. I cannot imagine that any cyclist would have attempted the overtake that Mr Stead did.Delete
oh my god really dangerous experienceReplyDelete
I am a daily London cycle commuter and occasionally have close overtakes happen upon me. I see these manoeuvres like attempted murder and would love to be able to support anything that can help change the law to prevent this from happening. It's a real shame that until a cyclist is killed, there is very little done and even then the driver only seems to be given a slap on their wrist.ReplyDelete