July 20th, 2011

RTC - police response

In April, a driver knocked me off my bike by opening his car door as I went past. He refused to provide his details, so I reported this to the police.

Today I had a letter from the police:

I am writing with reference to the above collision in which your vehicle was involved and to inform you that this office will not be taking any further action in respect of the matter.

As the driver of the other vehicle registration number FA04 FCF was unable to be traced I have attached for your information details of the Motor Insurers Bureau and the services they can provide. I trust you will find this of help.

Looking at the attached document, it says:

This leaflet does not try to explain all the procedures and conditions for claiming from Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). These are set out in full in two Agreements between MIB and the Department of Transport headed "Compensation of victims of uninsured drivers" and "Compensation of victims of untraced drivers".

So, there seems to be a distinction between "uninsured" and "untraced". Since the police have the vehicle details, I would assume that they could look up the registered keeper in the DVLA database. However, it's possible that the owner wasn't driving it that day. I know someone who successfully appealed against a speeding ticket on the basis that he couldn't remember who was driving the car that day and the speed camera didn't identify the driver. So, if you're in a situation like this then I advise you to take a photo of the driver as well as the vehicle; my helmet camera should be useful there, and lots of mobile phones have cameras built in (although mine doesn't).

Sadly, even video evidence isn't always enough. There was a case reported recently where a driver assaulted a cyclist and someone else filmed the whole thing. However, the vehicle owner claimed that he'd left the keys in the ignition, so someone else had stolen the car and then returned it later. The police said that they couldn't identify the driver, so there was nothing they could do. Fortunately that incident had a happy ending, since it got a lot of publicity (including the BBC and The Sun) and the driver handed himself into the police later.

In fairness, I realise that the police have limited resources, and my incident was pretty minor. Still, it's not ideal. I had to pay £90 for a replacement bag, but I don't think I'll bother going to MIB. If the driver was uninsured, they wouldn't pay for the first £300 of damage; for untraced drivers, they said that I may be eligible for compensation (or I may not), so I don't think it's worth the effort. The main reason I reported this to the police was to get the driver into trouble, i.e. I wanted him to understand why what he did was wrong. Sadly, it looks as if he's got away scot free.

I don't think the driver had any malice towards me, he just didn't pay attention to his surroundings. (The same goes for my collision in February.) I wasn't injured, I was just a bit shaken up. However, there have been other cases where drivers have accidentally killed cyclists, and it worries me that the courts don't take it seriously, e.g. The sciatica defence. That's partly why I belong to the CTC, so that I can support their campaigning. Still, hopefully the health benefits of cycling will outweigh the increased risk of death by squishing.