Threat to Compensation for Injured Cyclists

Based on an article from Cycling UK

Pandering to the insurance industry lobbyists, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a consultation supposedly on reforms to whiplash claims. However, these reforms are more likely to affect people riding bikes or walking when injured.The very road users who, ironically, rarely if ever suffer or claim compensation for whiplash and have a strong case for compensation.

The proposal is to increase the small claims limit for personal injury compensation claims from £1000 to £5000. That would prevent anyone recovering their legal and other costs, such as medical reports, for claims falling below the £5000 threshold. Cycling UK has identified that this would affect 70% of cyclists' compensation claims, which typically include claims for broken collarbones, wrists and ankles.

Compensation claims for moderate but non-life-changing injuries to cyclists and pedestrians are seldom simple and straightforward. The claimant might be a child or elderly person who needs legal help to present their claim. Young, old or in-between, they deserve full compensation put in a situation where they might recover £4000 and pay out £3500 in costs.

A fivefold increase in the small claims limit amounts to a real term cut in compensation for vulnerable road users. If fraudulent claims are being made these need to be identified and the perpetrators prosecuted. Removing the ability to obtain justifiable compensation in order to remove the possibility of fraud is perverse (although it no doubt makes sound financial sense for car insurers).

Cycling and walking are enjoyable, healthy and safe activities with huge personal and societal benefits. When such active travellers are injured by a motor vehicle, they shouldn't be prevented from pursuing a claim for rightful compensation because the costs would eat up the damages.

Cycling UK has joined with RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, and Living Streets, the national charity for everyday walking, in asking the Justice Secretary to show that she values victims more than she fears the voice of the insurance industry, and drop this proposal.

Texting drivers must be targeted

Based on an article from Cycling UK

The leading motoring and cycling charities, the AA and Cycling UK, have joined forces to impress on the Government the need to close an ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole exploited by many of the 8,600 motorists still driving with 12 points on their licence this year.

Drivers should not be able to avoid a ban save in truly extraordinary circumstances, not just because a ban would cause inconvenience or predictable hardship. As well as removing this ‘get out of jail free’ clause, driving disqualifications must also be made the norm for new drivers and repeat offenders to end avoidable deaths and serious injuries on our roads. As it stands both of these opportunities to make roads safer will fall outside of the long awaited MoJ’s motoring offences and sentencing review.

While applauding media initiatives against mobile phone use in cars, and the Government’s policy plans to increase penalty points for mobile use, the organisations point out that increased points will do no good if drivers with 12 points still remain on the roads.

Cycling UK's Senior Road Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer, Duncan Dollimore, said of the campaign: “Now is the time to make distracted driving, like texting and driving, as taboo as not wearing a seatbelt or drink-driving. We must tackle this problem head-on because it led to 22 deaths and 440 crashes last year."

AA President Edmund King said: “The devastating consequences of distracted driving are vividly portrayed in our latest campaign film, Cadence, which we released last week. Hopefully, our collective efforts to effect behaviour change, together with the Government’s recent announcement intending to increase penalties for mobile phone use while driving, will help to make this mobile madness socially unacceptable."

Cyclist Lee Martin was killed last year by texting driver Christopher Gard. The tragic incident took place just six weeks after Gard had dodged a ban and kept his licence, because of the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole, despite having six previous convictions for driving while using a mobile phone.

The DfT has announced that it is to:

Imposing bigger fines and more endorsements, however, will be merely cosmetic if drivers like Gard aren't actually banned once they’ve totted up enough points.


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