Today I was blocked by a driver who parked at an Advanced Stop Line (ASL). This is relatively minor (I've seen far worse), but it demonstrates the camera in action, along with a few general principles. Quoting from rule 178 of the Highway Code:
Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows.
Here's the video:
I recorded it in full HD, but it looks a bit blurry there; Windows Live Movie Maker converted it from a .mov to a .wmv file, and YouTube may do their own compression as well. So, I've taken a few stills from the original version to illustrate the important points. (Sorry if they're slow to download, but I thought it was useful to demonstrate what the camera's capable of.)
Initially I'm cycling along the road, then a car overtakes me. At 13 seconds, you can see that the traffic lights are red, before the car reaches the ASL:
At 43 seconds, the traffic lights change to red and amber, i.e. they're just about to go green. At 44 seconds, you can clearly see all the identifying details of the car:
It's a Vauxhall Astra, registration N11 CFU. Although this photo shows the car over the first white line, that's not incriminating by itself; that would be legal if the traffic light was green when the car crossed the line. So, you need a video to prove that the driver has broken the law.
At 48 seconds, the car still hasn't moved, so I call out "Green light". Other drivers might sound their horn in this situation, but that breaks rule 112 of the Highway Code:
The horn. Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively. You MUST NOT use your horn
- while stationary on the road
- when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30 pm and 7.00 am
except when another road user poses a danger.
The car still doesn't move, so I go past it. At 51 seconds, I look through the window, and see that the driver is pressing buttons on her mobile phone, presumably to send a text message:
Admittedly, that photo isn't entirely clear, but you can see that the driver's hands are close together and not touching the steering wheel. The theory of the helmet camera is that it sees what I see, but in practice I move my eyes more than my head, so I sometimes get a better view than the camera does.
At 55 seconds, the lights have changed to amber:
So, I only just made it through in time. If I hadn't overtaken the car, I would have had to wait through another "cycle" of all the traffic lights at that crossing until the next green light. Please note that not all cyclists jump red lights, despite the stereotype!
In fairness, I'm glad that the driver didn't actually move the car while she was using her phone. However, she shouldn't have been using the phone at all. Going back to the DirectGov website:
While driving, you must not use your hand-held mobile phone, smartphone or PDA:
- to make or receive calls
- to send or receive picture and text messages
- to access the internet
- when you're stopped at traffic lights
- when you're queuing in traffic
That's two laws she's broken, so I've reported her to the police at the RoadsafeLondon website.