Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Close overtake - 3 points, £60 fine, £220 costs

:UPDATE: I've been contacted directly by one journalist and indirectly by another, asked to talk about this. For what its worth, I think I've said all that I really need to say on the subject. And while I get that it can be viewed as news, I can't bring myself to go further with the story because I consider the case against the other guy to be closed now. Naming (and shaming) someone who has been up in court and admitted what he did rather further than I want to go; I have no personal animosity towards the guy so I've declined to name him to journalists. That doesn't mean they can't persue this via. court records or the police, it just means I can't bring myself to do that to him.

Way back in March I posted this.

For those who don't want to click through that, here's the footage of what happened on the 27th of March, and a quick description will follow...



So I was passed closely and I'd say aggressively. In the uncompressed footage its easier to see his mobile phone.

I had tweeted this to PC Gedny who was at the time tweeting as 'road safety cops' or some such, on behalf of Cambrideshire Constabulary. His response was pretty negative.

Afterwards Cottenham Cyclist raised this with a local police Sergeant (who I shan't name because discussions with him weren't public, so I shan't point out who it is as I don't know if he'd want that) who he's been building links with to try to get policing to become more cyclist friendly, he got in touch and suggested I should report it. So, I did.

A few days later I spent a couple of hours at the station, made a statement, gave them the original footage copied to disc, and then started waiting.

Eventually this came to court on the 13th of December, at Cambridge Magistrates. It was all a bit confusing - it had been scheduled for Peterborough Magistrates, I got the message on I think the Monday of that week that it would instead be in Cambridge because both I and the defendant live here. But somewhere along the way he either didn't get the message or it got confused and he still turned up in the wrong city.

I gave my evidence, he'd already pleaded guilty to phone use but not guilty to driving without due care and attention - and just as the magistrate was deliberating with the two other folk up there someone ran in to the court to say the defendant was in the wrong city! Two hours later his bus arrived in Cambridge, we reconvened... after another delay as he wanted his mum to be there.

Delays continued as he wanted to change his plea, then I was told maybe I wouldn't be needed, then I was in giving evidence. I must say the old ladies who run the witness or victim support in there as volounteers are diamonds and I can't praise them enough. In the room were me, prosecution solicitor, magistrate and two folk with her, someone sitting in front recording, someone else with a monumental pile of paperwork, usher, defendant, his mum and another lady who were if I'm honest giving me dagger like stares. I said my bit of evidence, the footage was reviewed 3 times, and as the defendant neither wanted to question me nor refute my version of events I left (not wanting to sit with his folk!).

Yesterday I got a letter with the result - he pleaded guilty to phone use and driving without due care and attention, he's been fined £60, given 3 points on his license, and has to pay £220 in costs. So yeah, a result... 

But I dunno... Basically that result cost me a day and a half of my life. And its not that big a result. It won't be in the papers, it won't make news, its not going to act as a deterrent to anyone else. So do we really have to teach each driver, individually, that they need to treat us as human beings?

I'm left in two minds. Yeah, got the guy, he'll know better now (or you'd hope he would) but was it worth it?

I can find no reference to earlier examples of helmet camera footage used in obtaining a conviction in Cambridge. I didn't anticipate dancing in the street, but I'd rather hoped that it would feel like it had been unquestionably worth it. Now? I just don't know.

36 comments:

  1. Will it even change his behaviour? Not convinced. If this is routine for him, and he's been caught at it once, what is this going to tell him about the likelihood of being caught?

    £280 is going to sting, though.

    Don't want to suggest you wasted your time, but it's not exactly an inducement to others to follow up on law-breaking.

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    1. I don't know the terms by which folk have to pay these things off. I'd hope £280 stings, but considering the difference between what he did and me being dead is luck it doesn't seem enough somehow.

      As you say, doesn't seem much of a deterrent.

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  2. Look at it this way: that's a better result than 90% of all the other close passes cyclists are subjected to. So no, it wasn't a waste of time.

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  3. Kudos to you for going through with it. I'm having similar reservations about reporting a close pass. Not sure if I can be bothered with the whole procedure and the loss of my time. I suppose their is one consolation: the driver's time is also wasted.

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    1. Yes I do and I always ride with my camera. I call it my personal deterrent. I've even experienced bad driving from the Police.

      I think your success encouraged me to report it and the Police did come round to review it. It wasn't as close as yours but still too close and fast for comfort. The Police said that since I wasn't knocked off my bike it's unlikely the prosecutor fiscal would take my video cam footage seriously. The Police did say they would like to take things like this further but didn't think it would work out. Did you have any witnesses to the event and did they question the validity of your camera footage? I was told that it would be difficult to use personal camera footage since it could have been doctored. And so they're going to contact the Driver and remind him about driving safely...

      My main concern from this is that since the Police are not trying to use video cam footage then it's not becoming the norm in the courts. However your success does give us a lever which may come in useful.

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    2. There were no other witnesses. No one at any stage questioned the validity of my camera footage, no one tried to refute my account of how far the car came to me.

      I think that the police tend to hide behind 'oh the CPS won't beinterested' because most of the police aren't interested - they don't have any specific targets for this so they don't tend to be out to sort out 'low level' (as they see it) traffic incidents.

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    3. I wonder if the mobile use swung it. That was a nice clear thing for which they could prosecute, and then might as well go for the careless driving while at it.

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    4. I'm inclined to think so too. The driver's admission of guilt for using his phone then verified the video footage and so the close pass was believed.

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  4. Actually, I think this is a MAJOR result. It is the first time I have seen a conviction for what is basically overly close overtaking. Normally the police show no interest in this at all. I wouldn't be surprised if, once this gets out, that it is used as a basis for arguing for police to do something in this area.

    (And yes, in the world of social media, this is already "making the news".)

    Of course, doing anything legal is always extremely tedious and time consuming. Rule Number One: Always take something to read to mop up the time when you are waiting! But you just have to do it - and as others have pointed out, the offender has to spend time as well.

    You may also have done yourself some psychological good by not taking it lying down.

    All in all, people concerned with bad driving have a lot to thank you for, IMO.

    RD

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  5. Great stuff, well done for following through properly with this. Hopefully more people will be encouraged and this case can be used as precedent. There does seem to be a trend in courts that witness/victim self-made video footage is being used to prosecute more effectively these days. Not just cycling incidents.

    A few questions, if I may;
    1.How close did he actually pass, in inches or centimetres?
    2.Was rule 92 of the Highway Code referred to in court (use of car horn)?
    3.What did you do when you got to the bus at the end of the video?
    4.Do you erase the video memory card every day unless there's a notable incident?

    Although his punishment may seem ineffectual now, I think that road user behaviour needs "nudging" in the right direction and this case is a nudge, believe it or not. This behaviour and attitude will become as despicable and outmoded as drink driving or mobile phone use.

    Once again, well done - you did the right thing!

    Jb

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    1. (1) At closest I'd have said a few inches. Within two hands breadths.
      (2) I gave my view in the morning, and was asked some different questions when we started again in the afternoon - at no stage was the highway code rule specifically referred to, but I did mention that the horn use was loud and kind of scary.
      (3) On Milton Road there, after the junction at which the incident occurred, the path to the left is legally shared use until (confusingly) about 30m after the next roundabout. On the original footage (the youtube version is of course shortened to the incident) I went on to the shared use path to get past the traffic, and if I recall correctly I rejoined the main carriageway at the roundabout. What I provided to the police (and hence what was available to the lawyer) was the original, uncompressed footage.
      (4) To tell you the truth most days I don't use a camera. I tend to delete it if there is nothing interesting, which is of course most days.

      Thanks for kind comments!

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  6. I agree, this was well worth it; even if not for you personally, then for all of us. I have spent time pursuing cases like this with the police, including one in which the driver's car actually hit two of us, and have never got nearly as far as you have. Let's hope it's the start of a bigger change. Well done.

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    1. Thanks. I've also taken way worse to the Police and got nowhere in the past. Fingers crossed this might be a turning point - if I'm honest I'll be very surprised if it is though :)

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  7. Yes, you are going to get a lot of congratulations! It is now in the twittersphere https://twitter.com/CTC_Cyclists/status/413413805419270144

    RD

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  8. Yup, you should get plenty more congratulation for your determination - it may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but none off us knows what this landmark decision might lead to. Well done indeed!

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    1. Thanks, but I wouldn't have said I was determined. To tell the truth this just kind of happened around me :)

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  9. good result, wish more could be prosecuted like this.

    btw Cab from DS?

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    1. Of DS until BS got too much :) Hello, long time no see.

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  10. I think good result. He will also be paying a higher insurance premium for a few years.

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  11. Well done! As noted above, the insurance will probably cost him even more than the fine. Will shave on Facebook as the more coverage this gets, the more others will feel empowered to do the same. At some point I will get a helmet cam. - I would have had footage of a bus driver who pulled out in front of me when I had right of way yesterday!

    You say most footage gets deleted but I imagine that most cyclists see something at least once a month that is worth reporting.

    Again well done and I hope this inspires more people to take action!
    Dave

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    1. Once a month? Every day more like :) I blogged on 'quiet' rides a while back. http://cambridgecyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/are-quiet-rides-uneventful.html

      And thanks for the kind words. Appreciated.

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  12. As part of CTC's Road Justice campaign I have been urging police forces across the country (and the CPS) to accept helmet camera footage as evidence. This example of a successful prosecution based on helmet cam footage will be useful for demonstrating just how valuable footage is. I've forwarded it on to the Independent who are interested in helmet cams.

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    1. If this can convince the police to take more of these to the CPS that would be great! Thanks.

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    2. Oh, and if the Independent want to get in touch point them my way. One of the few newspapers thats still genuinely reputable.

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  13. More thanks from Bath. Thanks for not losing your wrag and swearing at him at the time. Thanks for pursuing it and for following that all the way through to the conclusion. It was very worthwhile. For all of us who experience this on a daily basis. Have a great Christmas. Ride safe. Andy

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    1. Thanks! I have been known to get sweary, I'll confess to that.

      I don't take a camera out most days. I wonder whether on those occasions I do so I'm more likely to be restrained in my responses because I know its there. I don't know, but its food for thought.

      Anyway, thank you for kind comments, and have an excellent Christmas :)

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  14. Congratulations for seeing this through, despite the indifference of the "road safety cops" and the ineptitude of the courts service. Not sure how the magistrates decided that only a £60 penalty was appropriate for what in reality was deliberate intimidation which put your life in danger, seems unlikely any them had experienced a deliberate close overtake.

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    1. I didn't get to ask such questions of the magistrate. The prosecuting lawyer said she rides regularly in Cambridge.

      And I agree, seems very little for what is actually very dangerous. But a start, perhaps?

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    2. Yes definitely worthwhile given the reported general reluctance of the police to act on camera evidence where there has been no collision. There was footage of a particularly nasty looking HGV overtake on Martin Porters "Cycling Silk" blog, I think the police response was effectively "Yeah well he didn't hit you did he?"

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  15. Good job! ;-D

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  16. Thanks for making the effort. It really is worth it - not only does the driver learn what's acceptable and what may get him into trouble, but so does everyone around the case, including police, prosecution and magistrate.
    Hat off to you.

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  17. I understand how you might feel ambiguous about the use of your valuable time. But thank you for seeing this through.

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  18. You did your civic duty. Well done.

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