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Near Miss of the Day 872: Close passing van driver banned for 12 months and ordered to pay over £700 in costs after narrowly missing cyclist and oncoming motorist

The motorist, who was convicted last week of dangerous driving, was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service

A van driver who narrowly avoided clipping a cyclist while carrying out an extremely close pass has been banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay £760 in costs and compensation for the dangerous manoeuvre, which also forced an oncoming motorist to take evasive action.

The incident occurred as road.cc reader Chris was riding to work in the West Midlands last October during, remarkably, his first commute since buying a bike camera. Following the extremely close pass – so close, in fact, that Chris is “still not sure” whether he was struck by the van – he reported the footage to West Midlands Police.

Last week, the motorist was found guilty of dangerous driving and banned from the roads for 12 months, with a requirement to take an extended test before regaining their licence. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service and to pay £660 in costs and £100 in victim compensation.

Near Miss of the Day 872

“I’ve commuted by bike for a number of years now and have witnessed some horrendous driving,” Chris told road.cc following the driver’s conviction. “The week before the close pass, I had a driver pull out on me on a roundabout, who then proceeded to try and blame the incident on me as a cyclist for ‘not giving way to a car’. When I arrived at work that morning I ordered myself a 360 camera for the handlebars.”

> Near Miss of the Day 871: Cyclist narrowly avoids head-on collision with overtaking motorist

Describing the incident, Chris said: “I’d approached the usual row of cars parked in the marked bays, checked behind me to see if it was safe to move out and then moved out to pass the parked cars.

“As I was passing the parked cars the van just shot past me – close enough that I’m still not sure whether it struck me or if it was just the wind deflection from the wing mirror. It wasn’t until I reviewed the footage when I got to the office that I spotted the car coming the other way having to take evasive action to avoid being hit by the van as well.”

Near Miss of the Day 872 2

After reporting the footage to West Midlands Police last October, Chris says he “heard nothing” from the force until March 2023, when he was informed that the motorist was happy to admit to driving without due care and attention.

“The police wanted to know if I would accept this, though they did suggest that they would like to push for the higher charge of dangerous driving,” Chris says. “I figured that if the police wanted to pursue a dangerous driving conviction then that was probably what I should do.

“When the case went to the Magistrates’ Court I was a little bit taken aback that once again they wanted to see if I would accept the defendant’s careless driving plea. Why this was something I was given a choice over is a mystery – the CPS were the ones pushing the charges, I’m just the ‘victim’ and witness!

“I was however a little shocked over the severity of the sentencing. The cynic in me would suggest that West Midlands Police saw the footage, realised it was probably an easy case to win and then ran with it. We’ve all seen the media reports over the lack of prosecutions in the West Midlands despite their close pass campaigns.”

> 286 close pass submissions to West Midlands Police resulted in one prosecution, FOI request reveals

The media reports referred to by Chris include a story featured on road.cc in April, which reported that, according to a Freedom of Information request, of the 286 reports of careless, inconsiderate, or dangerous driving around cyclists considered by West Midlands Police in 2022, only one resulted in a successful prosecution.

In June, the force – pioneers of the award-winning and now-ubiquitous Operation Close Pass – admitted that its processing of public-reported video footage showing driving offences “is currently under review” following the criticism.

“We have seen a 50 percent increase in third-party reporting over the last two years. This process is currently under review around how we can manage the rise in these submissions,” a spokesperson said at the time.

> Police force criticised for one close pass prosecution from 286 submissions admits need to review how reports are managed

And earlier this month, a meeting of key stakeholders, including West Midlands Police, produced a new package of tougher measures to tackle dangerous driving in the West Midlands, after three cyclists and a pedestrian lost their lives on Birmingham roads in May.

At a meeting requested by West Midlands’ Walking and Cycling Commissioner Adam Tranter – chaired by West Midlands mayor Andy Street and attended by the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, the councillor responsible for transport at Birmingham City Council, Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, as well as Transport for West Midlands’ executive director – a crackdown on dangerous drivers was agreed upon, with the cited aim to “target the most dangerous drivers” with “relentless enforcement of the rules of the road”.

> "Relentless enforcement of the rules of the road": Police force crackdown on dangerous driving after cyclist deaths

Responding to road.cc’s request for comment concerning the recent conviction of the close passing van driver for dangerous driving, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police told us: “Road safety remains a priority for us and we are continuing our efforts to keep cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists safe across the West Midlands.

“At the start of August, we launched Operation Triton, a crackdown on dangerous and reckless driving involving both police and the local authorities.

“We will continue to carry out regular operations including Close Pass and Speedwatch events, as well as vehicle spot checks and extra patrols in problem areas.”

> Near Miss of the Day turns 100 - Why do we do the feature and what have we learnt from it?

Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.

If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.

If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).

Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.

> What to do if you capture a near miss or close pass (or worse) on camera while cycling

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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27 comments

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
0 likes

How can you possibly "not be sure" if you were struck by the van? 

Avatar
bikes replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
2 likes

Perhaps a wing mirror touched a flapping sleeve of his jacket or the van brushed a pannier. Or he got pushed by the force of the side draft from the van and possible light contact was made at the same time, so he's not able to be certain about the contact.

Avatar
Bungle_52 | 6 months ago
9 likes

First of all thanks to Chris for taking the time, trouble and expense of submitting the footage, for sharing it with us and congratulations on a spectacular result.

This incident seems remarkable for several reasons.

A police force charging with dangerous driving rather than careless, or more usually, a warning letter or even NFA.

The description of the cyclist as a VICTIM and witness.

Feedback on what's happening. No GDPR here.

Involving the victim in the decision on what action to take.

They have accepted video evidence from what I assume is a Insta 360 which needs editing to produce a video as I understand it. If so the "video must not be edited" get out has been debunked.

This has got to be a first, if so let's hope it's the first of many.

I think the only additional ask would be an official thank you to Chris for his contribution to road safety.

Here are a couple of my submissions. The first is as close but not as fast and the second isn't quite as close (you have to watch the rear view to see how close it was) but about the same speed. This shows the fine line between dangerous driving and no further action.

https://road.cc/content/news/near-miss-day-779-293395

https://road.cc/content/news/near-miss-day-603-overtaking-driver-squeeze...

Avatar
Beatnik69 | 6 months ago
8 likes

Sorry, would someone please confirm that my eyesight isn't faulty. Does that actually say that they got convicted of dangerous driving, rather than the usual careless driving? That's astonishing. It's about time the courts started clamping down on driving standards like this.

Avatar
Legin | 6 months ago
1 like

It would be good to know the name of the van driver.

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Shaun TheDiver | 6 months ago
1 like

Things are going to get a whole lot tougher in Scotland soon...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66593086

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wtjs replied to Shaun TheDiver | 6 months ago
7 likes

Things are going to get a whole lot tougher in Scotland soon...

Except they're not- we have already heard of the range of dodges employed by ScotFilth to avoid taking action against offending drivers (the best being: the driver does not remember the incident) and we know of the reluctance of courts to impose anything approaching the length of sentence permitted by the law, so these guidelines will make no difference when (as I understand it) the police are still making it as difficult as possible for witnesses and victims to submit video evidence

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mctrials23 replied to wtjs | 6 months ago
1 like

I think they should change things because the sentencing guildelines seem to be "marked on a curve" so if your maximum sentence is 5 years the severity of that crime in the grand scheme of that crime has to be serious to merit the maximum term. If the maximum is 15 years then 5 years suddenly goes from the extreme to the lower end of sentencing. 

Avatar
OldRidgeback replied to Shaun TheDiver | 6 months ago
1 like

Police Scotland would have to change the current 'cannae be arsed' approach to addressing poor driving for the new guidelines to have any effect.

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bikes replied to Shaun TheDiver | 6 months ago
1 like

Do Police Scotland still require video submissions to be on DVD?

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NOtotheEU replied to bikes | 6 months ago
1 like
bikes wrote:

Do Police Scotland still require video submissions to be on DVD?

They prefer DVD but VHS or Betamax is acceptable.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to NOtotheEU | 6 months ago
2 likes
NOtotheEU wrote:
bikes wrote:

Do Police Scotland still require video submissions to be on DVD?

They prefer DVD but VHS or Betamax is acceptable.

*cries in laserdisc*

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 6 months ago
11 likes

Wow. 
I think this is one of the strongest punishments for a non-contact close pass I have ever seen. 
Now if only there was some judges college where we could point to it and say "this is what good looks like".

More please WMP!🙏

Avatar
jaymack | 6 months ago
6 likes

...but the footage of the incident has been posted on YouTube! 

I'm delighted to note that the howls of outrage that so often spew from some quarters when those commited to road safety have the temerity to post videos of criminality behind the wheel is satisfyingly absent from the comments section. Well so far at least. 

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 6 months ago
9 likes

This case needs wider press coverage so that more drivers realise they might receive a hefty penalty for their thug driving. When this driver does get his licence back, his insurance will be significantly higher for at least 4yrs so the overall cost will be a few thousand pounds. That will impact his ability to buy steroids and cocaine and perhaps make the roads a little safer. 

Avatar
Oldfatgit replied to Muddy Ford | 6 months ago
3 likes

Unfortunately though, "might" is a very big word, and when it comes to prosecuting drivers, is normally followed by ", but probably not."

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Rendel Harris | 6 months ago
13 likes

If anyone lives near wtjs can you take him round a cup of tea (or perhaps something stronger) and look after him until he gets over the shock of WMP not only acting on a report but offering the victim options?

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HoldingOn replied to Rendel Harris | 6 months ago
2 likes

Is wtjs not Lancashire Constabulary?

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wtjs replied to Rendel Harris | 6 months ago
8 likes

If anyone lives near wtjs can you take him round a cup of tea and look after him until he gets over the shock of WMP not only acting on a report but offering the victim options?

It would never happen in Lancashire! Not only have Lancashire Constabulary never conducted any 'close pass operations' but, as far as FoI is able to demonstrate, they have never taken any close pass offence to court. I have twice been hit by car mirrors- the first occasion was before I got the camera and the police wrote it off as merely a 'momentary loss of concentration', and the second was on video and was ignored by LC. The camera used in the WMP case above is set to 'highly distorting' and I can achieve some degree of the same effect by setting to 'wide angle', but I don't. Virtually all of my videos are in non-distorting mode, and you can't get much closer than these (yes, they have nearly all been on here before)- all ignored by LC

https://upride.cc/incident/ca16vdr_qashqai_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/pk67vwo_cookelectricalrelay_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/md72dfu_alanhowardtrafic_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/nu62myh_blackburntaxi_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/pk15pcy_seatibiza_closepass/

And some of the 'oldies-but-goodies'

https://upride.cc/incident/px12eez_stagecoach41_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/yn67mvj_sainsburys44tonner_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/pe69ooc_clio_closepassspeed/

https://upride.cc/incident/4148vz_travellerschoicecoach_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/du61vhj_stuartbraithwaitebuilders_dwlcrossclosepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/ca70mkc_citroenvan_closepass/

 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to wtjs | 6 months ago
3 likes

My apologies, I got your location confused!

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wtjs replied to Rendel Harris | 6 months ago
7 likes

The care package you proposed would still have applied, had I been bothered at the policing discrepancies, but I have been reconciled to a long haul battle with LC for years now. However, all this pales into insignificance now that the latest incarnation of the loathsome little pillock has been abolished!

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eburtthebike | 6 months ago
12 likes

At last a reasonable sentence for dangerously weilding a deadly weapon and putting an innocent person in fear of their life, not before time.  I hope it's the start of a trend and we see more such callously indifferent drivers deprived of their licence to intimidate, kill and maim.

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NOtotheEU replied to eburtthebike | 6 months ago
7 likes

Agreed, lets hope we see lots more like this (the punishment, not the murderously close pass).

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IanMSpencer | 6 months ago
16 likes

Be interested to know what has changed that the CPS didn't bottle it and just settle for careless - and even more amazing that the magistrates were both persuaded and didn't fall for unable to drive for work as an exceptional circumstance.

I suspect he either was defending himself or had a lawyer perceived as having similar abilities.

The cynic suspects it was the oncoming car that swung it, not the cyclist.

Avatar
Legin replied to IanMSpencer | 6 months ago
3 likes

That's why I'd like to know the persons name. It may be coincenence, but I can't help but notice lighter sentences seem to be given to people with traditional English names and appearance. I'm hoping I'm wrong.

Avatar
Chrisbike1102 replied to Legin | 6 months ago
3 likes

I don't think it's appropriate to share the drivers name. He's had his sentence. 
What I will say though is your supposition regarding the drivers ethnicity is wrong. They were very much a traditional English person (if there is such a thing)

Avatar
ymm | 6 months ago
15 likes

Excellent result. This punishment will keep this complete liability of a van driver off the road for some time. Ace. It would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall in the extended retest for this guy and be able to see him be forced to address his massive ego and recognise how rubbish, and spectacularly incompetent, his driving was.

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