West Midlands Police has prosecuted more than 300 offenders using helmet and dash-cam footage
provided by members of the public
The driver of an HGV has been fined more than £1,000 after being found guilty of dangerously overtaking a cyclist in the West Midlands, writes Patrick McDonnell. This is the first conviction in an operation launched by West Midlands Police last year to tackle ‘close pass’ offences. Evidence of the offence was recorded on the cyclist’s helmet camera.
The lorry driver from Birmingham was convicted of driving without due care and attention having squeezed past the cyclist last November. He denied the offence but was caught on camera in Tipton’s Park Lane West, and was issued with a fine and costs totalling £1,038 and issued with five points on his licence after being found guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 30 June.
West Midlands Police’s #GiveSpaceBeSafe scheme was launched last September and involves plainclothes police officers pedalling the region’s busiest roads on the look-out for motorists who pass too close for comfort.
In addition to running regular operations, the force has also prosecuted more than 300 offenders using helmet and dash-cam footage provided by members of the public.
PC Mark Hodson from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) says: “Most offenders watch the footage, accept their driving was below par, and elect for a driver improvement course or an offer of three licence points and a fine of £100.
“This was a clear case of a close-pass: the cyclist was nearly forced into the kerb and the actions of the truck driver could easily have caused a very serious collision. He maintained his innocence, though, and has now been convicted in court.”
Hodson urges drivers overtaking cyclists and other vulnerable road users like horse riders to be patient, plan their overtake, and give plenty of room.
“The Highway Code says drivers should give the same room as when overtaking another vehicle which is about 1.5-metres or an open car door’s width,” he says.
“A few seconds delay to ensure a safe overtake is nothing compared to the consequences of a poorly planned and executed overtake can be.”
Nearly 200 offenders have been pulled over during police ‘close pass’ operations. Most have been allowed on their way after being given an on-the-spot educational input on safe overtaking using a specially designed floor mat.
However, 13 drivers went on to be prosecuted and two had licences revoked at the roadside for failing eyesight tests.
West Midlands Police has seen reports of close-passes halve since the scheme was introduced – and 16 police forces throughout the country are now considering embracing what UK Cycling described as the “best cyclist road safety initiative ever”.
The cyclist involved in the incident says he started using cycle cameras after being knocked-off his bike by a hit and run driver in 2015. “I was seriously hurt and it took six weeks to recover – and what made matters worse for me was that we couldn’t trace the driver,” he says.
“It helps me greatly to cycle on the roads knowing that, should anyone endanger me, West Midlands Police will act upon it… it gives cyclists the confidence and reassurance that such dangerous driving will not be tolerated.”