Justice system ‘failing’ cyclists as driver disqualifications ‘drop by 62%’
Calls have been made for cyclists to be given priority above other vehicles in a revised Highway Code.
The justice system is “failing” cyclists by allowing more than 8,500 drivers to continue to get behind the wheel with more than 12 points on their licence, according to a new report.
Cyclists should be given priority above other vehicles in a revised Highway Code in order to offer them greater protection on the roads, the all-party parliamentary cycling group (APPCG) said.
The charity RoadPeace, which gave evidence to the group, said disqualifications had fallen by 62% from 155,484 in 2005 to 58,715 in 2015.
The APPCG cited the case of Christopher Gard, who was jailed for nine years last September for causing the death by dangerous driving of 48-year-old cyclist Lee Martin, as a failure of the “exceptional hardship” mitigation that allowed many drivers to stay on the road post-conviction.
Gard, then 30, of Linnet Way, Alton, Hampshire, had at least six previous convictions for using his mobile phone while driving.
Some 8,594 drivers retained their licences even after racking up enough points (12) for a driving ban, the latest Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency figures showed.
The report made 14 recommendations on issues from sentencing to police procedure and policy, including that roads policing should be given a higher priority, the driving test should include driver behaviour around cyclists and the Ministry of Justice should investigate the decline in disqualifications.
Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth and co-chairwoman of the APPCG, said: “The evidence we have heard during our inquiry is truly shocking. Threatening behaviour by vehicle drivers towards more vulnerable road users who are on bikes and on foot is routinely tolerated and rarely punished; our roads police are under-resourced; and people who have flagrantly and habitually flouted the law are allowed to continue being a menace on our roads.
“This idea there is a ‘right to drive’, when it is clearly a privilege, is taking precedence over the right to safety on our roads for everyone. Lives have been lost because people who should have been taken off the road are granted the leniency not given to those whose lives they then go on to ruin.
“This isn’t a political issue, but a public safety one, which is why this cross-party group calls on the next Government in June to address the collapse in the number of disqualifications imposed on irresponsible drivers.”
APPCG co-chairman Alex Chalk, Conservative MP for Cheltenham said the decline in disqualifications was “striking”.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s senior road safety officer, who gave evidence to the inquiry, said: “Rightly this cross-party group of MPs and peers has identified the problems that affect us all – whether we’re driving, cycling or walking – and made sensible recommendations to make our roads safer.
“Cycling UK welcomes the ambition of the report’s recommendations, and believes it should set the road safety agenda for the next Government. We hope politicians of all parties will be able to support them, and work together to prevent avoidable and dangerous incidents on our roads.”