Police crackdown on drivers overtaking cyclists
Cyclists have long campaigned about motorists who pass too close to them, but with limited success. Now a groundbreaking initiative by West Midlands Police, which will target drivers who put cyclists at risk by ignoring Highway Code rules, has been hailed as the “best cyclist safety initiative by any police force, ever” by the national cycling charity, Cycling UK.
Cyclists are particularly vulnerable road users; hospital admission figures reveal that in England 2,787 cyclists were admitted to hospital following collisions with a motor vehicle in 2014, and of the 530 cyclists killed or seriously injured in the West Midlands between 2010 and 2014, 84% were through collisions with cars.
Highway Code Rule 163 clearly states that a road user should only overtake when it is safe and legal to do so and should:
- Not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake
- Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car
Rule 212 reiterates this by saying: “when passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room. If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.”
Those who do not know, or choose to ignore the Highway Code’s rules, will find themselves being offered road-side educational input on safe overtaking by West Midland police in special patrol cars.
A team of police cyclists monitoring the region's busiest roads will radio the details of any close-pass drivers for their in-car colleagues to intercept at a designated holding point.
Repeat offenders or anyone who has driven dangerously close to a cyclist may be prosecuted.
80 drivers have already been pulled over and their details taken in a 4 day test ahead of the clampdown launch.
Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigner has welcomed WMP’s initiative to combine education and enforcement to emphasise the message that cyclists need space and that motorists risk prosecution for careless driving if they pass too close.
The practice of close passing not only puts cyclists at risk but also deters others from using cycles as a means of transport. Achieving the health, congestion and sustainability benefits of cycling requires that there is better road safety for everyone who would like to cycle.
WMP is the first UK police force to come forward with a plan to prioritise close pass drivers and it is hoped that other police forces will follow suit.