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Near Miss of the Day 737: Overtaking van driver beeps at cyclist and swerves at him ... but only gets a warning letter

Our regular series featuring close passes from around the country - today it's Thames Valley...

A van driver who beeped the horn at a cyclist as they overtook him then swerved back in at the bike rider has received no more than a warning letter from the police force the incident was reported to, with stronger action not taken because there was apparently insufficient evidence to give a realistic prospect of a successful prosecution of the motorist.

The incident was filmed by reader Steve, who told us that after being told of the outcome, he phoned the officer handling the case, “mainly to ask what the evidential burden of proof would be and why some of the other options were not considered.

“I was not given a reason why a course was not offered, however, I suspect it rarely is for a first offence,” Steve said.

“A fixed penalty for careless driving was not considered as this offence must be witnessed, in person, by a police officer for the FPN to be issued.

“The officer couldn’t tell me whether this was actual law or force policy [we suspect the latter – ed], but gave the example that red-light runners could not be issued a FPN from camera footage either, they had to be taken to court too.

“He agreed that this seemed at odds with the ability for speeding offences to be dealt with out of court based on retrospective photo evidence.”

“We had a good discussion about the chances of the police witnessing a close pass on a cyclist being minuscule, and that no matter the penalty, such a low probability of getting caught offered little deterrent.

So, we are really only left with court as the course of action,” Steve continued. “He told me in the three years he’d been working in traffic at Thames Valley Police, there had only been one case taken to court that he was aware of.

“He told me that was very bad as it was at high speed. I suspect it was one of my submissions (NMotD 309), which, granted, does have the shock factor.

“This leaves me a little underwhelmed,” Steve said. “Hopefully, this driver will now be more careful as his card has been marked. But if you encounter his bad driving, please report it!

“There does seem to be some room for improvement in the service the police are able to provide to victims of road crime,” he added.

“The current all-or-nothing approach is clearly not working, so perhaps something to bring up with the local police and crime commissioner. The police just need the ability to issue FPNs retrospectively for careless driving offences.”

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

Over the years 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] or send us a message via the 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

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago

If only the rider had been a female police officer.

HoarseMann replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago

I did say to the officer that with high-viz, helmet, day-bright lights, mirror, cameras and a defensive road position, that I thought I'd done all I could for my own safety. But maybe not?*

*actually, some look quite aero

Fignon's ghost | 2 years ago

The van was so close to the rider. They would've seen the camera.
Imagine what might've happened had the driver not noticed the camera??

Cyclists. ALWAYS wear a camera. Front and back. Otherwise stay on the cyclepaths.

Let's SNAP these lowlife fools and get them noticed by the law.

Ratfink | 2 years ago

Why is the hooting of the other car muted in the incident clip?

In the full segment you can see that the van is hooting a reply (?) to the car that hooted at him.

HoarseMann replied to Ratfink | 2 years ago

The car didn't hoot, it was the van. Two beeps as they raced up behind, then a long blast as they went past and swerved. The first two beeps are quieter as the microphone doesn't pick up sound that well, but they were loud enough to me!

Velo-drone | 2 years ago

What a load of nonsense. The Met regularly dole out points and FPNs for video reported close passes.

I suspect the real driver is resource and politica - it is relatively staff and IT intensive to triage, review and issue NIPs for such incidents within the 10 day time frame required. If the recipient challenges the penalty then it goes to court, meaning lots of paperwork stretching over a long time (can easily take a year or more to get to court).

Hammering drivers is not likely to be a priority for a lot of directly elected Police & Crime Commissioners.

Warning letters don't need to go out in the 10 day time frame. They can be issued in template form with minimal input. They make nice easy stats that give the appearance of action while essentially doing nothing. There's no comeback, so it's a one and done response.

wtjs replied to Velo-drone | 2 years ago

Warning letters don't need to go out in the 10 day time frame. They can be issued in template form with minimal input. They make nice easy stats that give the appearance of action while essentially doing nothing

And they're handy as scrap paper for the recipient. They are otherwise worthless, because the police will ensure they 'don't notice' the previous offence when the driver commits the next one.

A fixed penalty for careless driving was not considered as this offence must be witnessed, in person, by a police officer for the FPN to be issued

Obvious lying by the police. Lying, dodging and incompetence are the staples of traffic police work. Below, you can see's PN22 DTX -a 44 tonner hammering through an A6 red light on 21st March. If you ignore the usual rubbish, as I will, about 'how can he stop in time if it's just changed to red there?', 'how do we know he actually went through the lights' or 'the Met police only prosecute if you go through the lights over 3 seconds after they turned red' etc. The police were quick to exonerate the driver, as Lancashire Constabulary invariably does for HGVs, with this (an exact and complete copy- I would have included the officer's name but Lancashire keeps them anonymous)

Thank you for your submission APL 103264.The footage, including still, shows the HGV crossing the first solid white stop line whilst the traffic signal is amber.  The further solid white stop line is for bicycles, as is clearly marked.  There are no offences disclosed from this footage and therefore no further action will be taken

I refer those sceptical about Highway Code Rule 178, such as Lancashire Constabulary, to this Part 1, Section 30 and Part 2, Item 49. The complaint is now with Inspector Oliver Jones who "has just joined my department but has some knowledge of OpSnap from his previous role in Division". Policemen always come with a built-in excuse!

HoarseMann replied to wtjs | 2 years ago

I did think about your red light battles when the officer mentioned they couldn't issue FPN's for that. Maybe Lancs have a similar policy?

I'm assuming you are sending a video of the red light infringement and not just a photo?

wtjs replied to HoarseMann | 2 years ago

The video and still and slomo were in police hands on the same day- that's why the police official response mentions 'the footage'. I never send video into the site any more because it's invariably ignored. I don't think, despite my non-reticence on the subject, most people on here yet realise just how bad Lancashire Constabulary is. You now have the evidence that Lancashire Constabulary doesn't know how Advanced Stop Lines and traffic light legislation work- the Highway Code is very specific and is not difficult to read, but the duffers who 'review' evidence still can't get it right

HoarseMann replied to Velo-drone | 2 years ago

This is my submission (and one reason I got a bit annoyed with Ashley Neal's horn advice!). I think you are right there and interesting that the MET seem able to hand out FPNs for careless driving.

They did issue a NIP and took the time to speak to the driver over the phone. I can't think it would be much more effort to issue a 3 point 100 quid FPN, with the warning if it goes to court, the fine will be a lot more and you could get more points.

I can imagine the one driver that got prosecuted, if they read this, will not be thinking blimey, I'd better not do that again. They'll be saying wasn't I unlucky to get done for it and they'd be right.

The question is, what to do about it?

eburtthebike replied to Velo-drone | 2 years ago

Velo-drone wrote:

Hammering drivers is not likely to be a priority for a lot of directly elected Police & Crime Commissioners.

It should be.  The police's duty is to protect the public, and the most likely cause of harm to the public is distracted, inattentive, or as in this case, deliberately dangerous drivers.  If the police don't want to be picking up bits of people at crashes, they should be enforcing road laws to ensure that such drivers are removed from the road.

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