Can I claim for a cycle injury if I ran a red light?
According to reports, cyclists frequently run red lights (also known as "red light jumping") even though it is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.36 and the Traffic Signs Regulations and Directions 2002 regulations 10 and 36(1).The legislation states that road users must not cross the line at a red traffic light, and this applies to cyclists as well as motor vehicles. However the legislation appears to be widely ignored by some cyclists, with more than 4,000 being issued with fixed penalty notices in 2013 - for jumping red lights or ignoring other road signs.
Research also confirms that many cyclists often disregard the law. In a survey conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists 57% of cyclists admitted running red lights, plus a recent YouGov poll also revealed that at least 35% of cyclists occasionally ignore a red light.
How dangerous is it for a cyclist to run a red light?
Many cyclists believe that they are safer putting distance between themselves and other road users by moving through traffic signals ahead of other traffic.
However this can have serious consequences for the cyclist and others, particularly pedestrians.
One cyclist lost his life when he ignored a red light and was in collision with a truck (who also jumped the red light). In this case, although the truck driver was also liable, the compensation awarded to the cyclist's widow and children was reduced due to his own contributory negligence.
Cyclists also have a duty of care to respect traffic signals and other road users
In 2013 a cyclist was given a 12 month jail sentence for grievous bodily harm after he knocked down a 9 year old girl at a pedestrian crossing because he failed to stop at a red light. The cyclist was travelling at speed and seemingly oblivious to all around him.
What if another road user also contributes to the accident?
Around 1% of all attributable accidents are caused by cyclists who "disobeyed automatic traffic signal". This is roughly the same percentage assigned to motorists who run a red light. If it can be demonstrated that another road user also disregarded the law and that was a contributory factor in your cycling accident, then a claim for injuries sustained whilst running a red light may be awarded.
However the Court will reduce the amount awarded according to how much you contributed to your own accident - contributory negligence.
For example, in a case in 2011 a cyclist who had run a red light was in collision with a taxi that had crossed a junction on a green light. The cyclist had also failed to brake in time to avoid the collision.
The Court learned that the taxi driver had been travelling at 41-50mph in a 30mph zone, and had he been observing the speed limit, would not have collided with the cyclist. That said, had the cyclist observed the red light, he would not have been in the taxi's path, so the collision would not have occurred.
It was concluded that the accident had 3 causative factors:
- The cyclist's running of the red light
- The cyclist's failure to apply his brakes in time to avoid the accident
- The taxi driver's excessive speed