Ridiculous Delays In The Prosecution Of Road Traffic Cases
The Government has overseen a brutal series of cost cutting exercises within the criminal justice system. The sole purpose has been to save money at the expense of justice. Nowhere is this more evident than in road traffic cases.
I have just fixed a trial for a client facing prosecution for allegedly driving while impaired through drugs. The issues are straightforward and the trial will take no more than 3 hours. The earliest the court can hear the case is April 2014.
France Drop Speed Camera Offenses For The Day
Today looks like being a good day for motorists in France. The French Police are so fed up with Francois Hollande that for today only they are not going to enforce the law when it comes to speeding motorists. I'm not quite sure how the French logic links the Prime Minister with speeding offences, but I am sure that it will provide a welcome respite for the beleagured motorists.
It also provides an excellent opportunity to see what impact this will have upon road safety. One assumes that if there is no increase in road traffic accidents then speed camera enforcement is not there to make the roads safer. But simply to generate Government revenue.
What New Laws Could Reduce Cyclist/Motorist Accidents?
I have spent the last 24 years defending a whole range of people facing criminal prosecution for virtually every known offence. One area that still never fails to touch me is a fatal accident involving a motorist and a cylist/pedestrian or any other road user. In my opinion criminal law has lost sight of the fact that in the majority of these cases are ACCIDENTS.
These cases almost always involve a perfectly normal, respectable person driving to work and colliding with another on foot or bike doing the exact same thing. The fact is that human beings are fallible, we all make mistakes and people caught up in fatal road collisions never mean to hurt anyone.
In an instant, people's lives are changed and sometimes destroyed.
New Plans To Reduce Accidents
The key to reducing these fatal accidents is the education of all road users. New plans to be implemented will soon make it obligatory for trucks to have a mirror fitted to the nearside to enable the driver to see a cyclist between the truck and the pavement. Failure to have one will result in a fine. Lets go one step further. Why not impose an on the spot fine for cyclists who ride on the inside of a truck when it is indicating to turn right? The combination of both of these would reduce road deaths.
Add to that the compulsory wearing of high visibility clothing for all cyclists on the highway and I am convinced that fatal accidents involving cyclists would significantly fall.
If you are facing criminal prosecution and require assistance please contact us on 0800 195 6567 or send an email to email@example.com
What Is The Definition of a Motor Vehicle?
I think this is the first time in my 24 year career that I have disagreed with a magistrates court that found in favour of the motorist.
A few weeks ago a chap appeared before the Bury St. Edmunds Magistrates Court. He was charged with driving whilst disqualified. He had previously been disqualified for driving with excess alcohol. Being a particularly resourceful gentleman he decided as he couldnt drive a motor car he would transport himself by way of a motorised skateboard. The police saw him, arrested him and prosecuted him for driving a motor vehicle whilst disqualified.
The chap pleaded not guilty upon the basis that the skateboard was not a motor vehicle. Having considered all the evidence, the magistrates found him not guilty. They felt a reasonable person would not think it was a motor vehicle.
Please note that decision was wrong! Please do not follow it.
In any other court, on any other day this would have been a guilty verdict. The skateboard was powered by an engine and specific case law on virtually the exact same thing confirms that it is a motor vehicle, so I advise you, do not drive one if you are disqualified, drunk, etc, etc. I suspect that the Crown Prosecution Service will appeal the decision and it will be overturned.
Our Criminal Courts Are Empty, But Our Traffic Courts Are Full
As regular followers of my blog will be aware I genuinely believe that the forces of Law and Order devote far more time to prosecuting the motorist than they do chasing serioius criminals.
Most Prosecutions are for Low Level Offences
Whilst one must accept the need to police our highways in order to ensure that they run smoothly and stay safe, the reality is that most motoring prosecutions are for low level speeding offences. In Cumbria, the traffic police will issue you with a ticket for driving at 77mph on the motorway. There can be no real argument that this has anything to do with road safety. In my experience speeding cases are always prosecuted by the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Attitude of Prosecution Lawyers
What's even more amazing is the attitude of Prosecution lawyers in these cases. They devote huge amounts of their time and energy trying to obtain a conviction in a low level speeding case, yet for thousands of offences involving violence they authorise the Police to administer a caution.
Some may say this is not true. But believe me it is. Take a look in any of the Magistrate Courts up and down the land. The Criminal Courts are deserted. Which one is always full to bursting?...The Traffic Court.
If you require assistance after receiving a speeding penalty please contact us on 0800 195 6567 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Analysis: Is There Proof Speed Cameras Reduce Speeding?
It is regularly said by the powers that be, that the presence of speed cameras on our roads improves road safety by reducing traffic speed.
However, a careful examination of the facts does not support this. The most profitable speed camera has been identified as an average speed check on the M60 at Stockport, Greater Manchester. This system has been there for years. One would expect therefore, that traffic moving along that stretch of motorway would be moving at 50mph. Not so. Recent police figures show that in the last 3 years it has generated £1.9 million through motorists being fined.
Given that fixed penalty speeding tickets are £60 a time it is not hard to work out that despite the presence of these speed cameras, a huge volume of motorists have broken the speed limit. Clearly they don't work. They do however generate further government revenue out of the motorist. I remain to be convinced that money is not taking priority over issues of safety.
Driving In The Middle Lane? Face a £60 Fine!
The war against the motorist continues! How worrying is it that government statistics show record numbers of people receiving cautions for serious criminal offences and yet the police have just received new powers in the fight to make the world a safer place by being able to issue on the spot fines for motorists hogging the middle lane.
Did somone really spend time wondering how the policing of our great nation could be improved and come up with this?
Whilst we all get irritated by middle lane hoggers, the problem will become one of definition. At what point are you hogging the middle lane? After all, The Highway Code advises that motorists should not change lanes unnecessarily. The decision will become that of the police officer exclusively. Their evidence will not require corroboration by anybody else or for example a speed recording device. The undoubted consequence of this developement is that the number of motorists receiving penalty points for "careless driving" will massively increase.
I have recently seen an increase in motorists obsessively lurching into the inside lane of the motorway, almost inevitably then undertaking a driver in the middle lane. I am to be convinced that this improves motorway safety. It will however markedly increase Government revenue from the motorist. Surely that couldnt have been the motivation behind this increase in police powers...
Cyclists Safety, making safer roads for cyclists ... and motorists please!
The Highways agency has announced plans to make roads safer for cyclists. This is primarily by making dedicated areas for cyclist road users.
Quite how this will happen on the vast majority of roads is a mystery to me. We are all aware that the level of traffic on most roads is now at an all time high. The Highways Agency concedes that our road system is under massive strain due to the volume of traffic. The roads are close to GRIDLOCK. Making roads narrower to accommodate cyclists will only increase the strain on our road system and possibly increase the number of Dangerous Driving Sentences.
How I would improve Cyclist Safety
Two things need to happen in my humble opinion. I should point out that my opinions are based upon my experience in 25 years of being a Motoring Lawyer, defending motorists involved in fatal road traffic accidents. Sadly, very often involving a cyclist.
1. Firstly, there should be compulsory education for both CYCLISTS and MOTORISTS.
It is clear from my experience both as a driver and as a Traffic Lawyer that cyclists are often seriously unaware of the danger they put themselves in whenever they go on the road. They are usually travelling feet, if not inches away from tonnes of metal. Even travelling slowly a car will cover 15 ft per second. The common complaint of the cyclist is that motorists don’t look out for them. I am afraid that complaint is not born out by the evidence.
The fact is that motorists do LOOK before manoeuvring but do not SEE the cyclist. On a moving bicycle with dark clothing and an ever-changing backdrop, it is a proven fact that the human eye can be fooled into not picking up the rider. The solution to this is COMPULSORY HIGH VISIBILITY clothing for all cyclist road users. Evidence firmly establishes that this makes the cyclist infinitely more visible... and SAFE.
2. Secondly as the user of the highway, all cyclists should be required to pass a test to obtain a licence to use the road.
NO licence would mean no road use and this would remove dangerous cyclists from the road.
A fatal accident involving a cyclist or any other road user is a tragedy for all concerned... cyclist, pedestrian and motorist. If these suggestions were implemented, I have no doubt that it would massively reduce death and injury on our roads.
Young drivers to be closely monitored
The harsh fact is that new drivers are far more likely to cause death by dangerous driving or be killed in a road traffic accident as compared with experienced drivers. The key statistic is the first 1000 miles of driving. During that period the driver and the other road users are at greater risk.
Monitor New drivers not just Young Drivers
The RAC and other motoring organisations have jointly called for new restrictions upon YOUNG drivers who have recently passed their driving test. This should not be YOUNG drivers but NEW drivers irrespective of age. The main factor in making a good driver is experience not age.
In my opinion, the way forward would be to limit the speed of new drivers’ vehicle for a fixed period. I have defended in a vast number of motoring prosecutions involving serious or fatal accidents involving new drivers. In my experience inappropriate speed is an overwhelming factor. The reality is that new drivers can have an over confidence with regard to their driving ability when just having passed their driving test.
This is not the fault of the new driver. Having been passed fit to drive they are then set off on the road with no further assistance or guidance. Very often, a near miss will bring home just how new they are to the skill of driving well. A period of speed limited use of the road would serve as a safer way of them honing their skills rather than defining what time of day they can drive or who can be sitting in the passenger seat.
10,000 violent offenders are let off each year
It has always been my firm view that the criminal justice system is unduly harsh towards those who commit motoring offences. Motorists regularly find themselves before the court appealing a driving ban as a result of relatively minor offences where nobody has been harmed and no property damaged.
Contrast that with the fact that the police have confirmed that up to 1 in 8 violent offences each year are being dealt with by the offender being cautioned. No fine, no legal expenses, no court appearance...nothing. Get 4 fixed penalties over a three year period and you stand to lose your driving licence...job...home. Do not tell me that is justice.
Motorists beware...The police will almost always assume the car accident was your fault.
It is widely reported that the cycling death toll is at a five year high. This is reflected in the sharp rise in prosecutions of motorists for causing death by careless or dangerous driving. At any one time, I found myself defending a number of motorists who has been involved in a nightmare scenario in which a cyclist has died.
Sometimes it will have been the fault of the motorist. Usually the mistake will have been a momentary lapse in concentration resulting in the cyclist not being seen resulting in truly dreadful consequences for everybody.
The current wave of publicity is very much anti motorist. A closer inspection of the facts of these accidents shows very clearly that the cyclist, regrettably, in a large number of cases have caused the accident.
The fact is that cyclists are just as entitled to use the road as car drivers. Motorists owe a huge duty of care to pedestrians and cyclist alike. This cannot however absolve cyclists of their own duty of care not just to other road users but to themselves.
Car Accident, who is really at fault?
I recently defended in a case where a cyclist was hit from behind by a lorry. He was riding at night on an unlit road. He had no light on the bike, no reflectors, a black top and camouflage trousers. He was over the drink drive limit and had illegal drugs on his body. The police had received a number of calls from the police saying the cyclist was going to get himself killed.
My client was the unlucky one who collided with him and he died. Result...charged by the police as being the drivers fault!
I am pleased to say that after much hard work I was able to ensure she was found not guilty. The reality was she should never have been charged. This is a cautionary example of how the police will try to pin it on the motorist no matter how little care was taken by the cyclist.
Welcome to the new TrafficLawyer4U blog. Look forward to some interesting posts and news from us in the very short future.