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Police say penalty points “will not do anything to correct poor driving habits” of motorist who hit cyclist after pulling across “to speak with her daughter on the phone”

The motorist was sent on a driver awareness course after the incident, which left the cyclist “unable to walk properly”

A cyclist who was seriously injured when he was struck by a motorist, who pulled sharply across the road without looking “to speak with her daughter on the phone”, has criticised the decision to send her on a driver awareness course – a punishment he described as a “slap on the wrist” – after Warwickshire Police concluded that “a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits”.

Paul Barfoot was riding on Kenilworth’s Priory Road in July when he was hit by a driver who pulled across the road and into his path, leaving him with ankle, foot, and shoulder injuries, as well as a broken bike, Warwickshire World reports.

Following the incident, the Traffic Process Unit at Warwickshire Police told Mr Barfoot that officers had concluded that the motorist was “sufficiently blameworthy to justify further police action”.

However, in a letter sent to the cyclist, Warwickshire Police confirmed that the motorist would not face a fine or any penalty points, but instead be made to attend a driver awareness course.

The letter said: “While there is sufficient evidence in this case to justify a prosecution, there is no provision in law for a Magistrate to order such retraining and the imposition of a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits.”

> Driver escapes punishment for alleged hit-and-run on cyclist, as victim blasts police inaction and “barriers to justice”

Speaking to Warwickshire World, the cyclist criticised the motorist’s “inadequate” punishment, noting that he is still recovering from the injuries “caused by this careless driving”.

“The driver told me the reason they quickly pulled from one side of the road to the other – in front of my path without looking – was to speak with her daughter on the phone,” he said.

“I suffered serious injuries which I am still recovering from. For several weeks I was unable to walk properly or climb the stairs. I had my arm in a sling. My foot and ankle swelled, my elbow and ankle badly sprained, not to mention the muscle and tissue damage I suffered.

He continued: “I still have issues with my ankle, elbow, and cannot lift my arm above my shoulder, not to mention the anxiety I get when I travel on any road now.

“I am having to pay for private consultants, MRIs, and am under a physio to try and recover from the injuries caused by this careless driving.

“Since the incident, I have had to spend hours submitting reams of information to my home insurance in order to claim for my £10,000 bike which was written off. I am still waiting for the bike insurance money to be paid – and all she gets is a slap on the wrist.”

Mr Barfoot also claimed that he had to “push the police to investigate the accident to the extent they did, with me getting tearful several times with the traffic officer explaining how it had impacted my life.

“I spoke to the sergeant involved in making the decision and told him I was very unhappy with the outcome.”

Responding to the cyclist’s criticism, a spokesperson for Warwickshire Police said: “Following direction from officers, the driver has agreed to do a safety course as a result of this incident, which is due to take place in October.

“At the moment, until that course has been completed, this incident is still technically under investigation for driving without due care and attention (as, for example, if the driver didn’t turn up for the course, they could find themselves in court, so this is still being treated as an active case).

“We feel that the result of this case was proportionate given the circumstances.”

> Near Miss of the Day 806: Driver escapes punishment after reversing at cyclist and running over dog

Earlier this year, police in Scotland also came in for criticism from a cyclist, who blasted their “appalling” inaction that enabled a motorist to escape punishment for an alleged hit-and-run, which the rider claims left him with a broken bike and “unable to sit down for a week”.

Cyclist Alan Myles toad road.cc in February that, despite contacting East Dunbartonshire Police around 30 times in relation to the incident, he only received two responses – with one officer even taking over six months to reply to an email containing the crash footage.

Motorist escapes punishment after alleged hit-and-run (credit - Alan Myles)

Myles also claimed that those investigating the apparent collision failed to contact two witnesses, and that an officer told him that, due to the lengthy delay in tracking down the motorist, the offence had been downgraded from dangerous to careless driving because “the driver couldn’t remember the incident”.

The cyclist added that he only discovered that the case had been thrown out after contacting the Procurator Fiscal, who dismissed the police’s report as time-barred – over a year after the alleged hit-and-run took place.

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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41 comments

Avatar
Runtilyoudrop | 9 months ago
3 likes

Strongly advise bringing a civil case to cover costs damages etc.

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wycombewheeler | 9 months ago
1 like

On the one hand a driver training course will cost more and have more impact than the standard 3 points and fine. (as well as costing half a day). If I picked up a speeding offence with no other points on my licence I would just take the points, rather than pay more and lose a ha;f day of leave to take the course. But If I already had points then the course would be preferable to keep insurance down.

On the other hand the points system is there to enable dangerous drivers who will not mend their ways to be taken off the roads, in which case giving points clearly does have an impact, because while some drivers will not improve, they will no longer be on the roads, which is still a win.

Maybe the police, tired at seeing "exceptional hardship" result in dangerous drivers being left on the roads, despite 12 points or more, feel that driver training courses are the most succesful tactic in improving road safety.

So really I'm not sure whether I am outraged by this or not. If only points AND training course were an option.

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Velo-drone | 10 months ago
1 like

They are right.

But the solution in cases like this is a ban and requirement to re-sit the test (or extended test).

There is perhaps some merit in amending process so that a driving improvement course can be required in lieu of additional points - i.e. you can accept 5 points and a fine or else 3 points and a driver improvement course - rather than the only option being points & fine, or a driver improvement course. 

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Cugel | 10 months ago
12 likes

A Guardian article summarising a potted history of motordom's construction of the faux "war on the motorist", containing propositions that suggest that, on the contrary, there has been a war of motor manufacturers and users on everyone else:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/28/the-war-on-motorists-the-s...

A quote:

“It’s the idea that when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression ... Drivers have been used to being at the top of the food chain for so long, no one alive today knows a world where that wasn’t true. So, when these insurgents like bike advocates, or pedestrian and low-traffic neighbourhood proponents nip at the heels of motordom it can feel like a big threat". 

Avatar
Robert Hardy | 10 months ago
7 likes

If you hit a vulnerable road user with a vehicle at any speed that is sufficient to cause injury that is dangerous, if your lack of care caused that situation then by definition you have driven dangerously and the law needs to be toughened up to reflect the fact.

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eburtthebike replied to Robert Hardy | 10 months ago
4 likes

Fear not!  The report on highway laws will be out any day now!  Or is that any year now?

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Backladder replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
3 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Fear not!  The report on highway laws will be out any day now!  Or is that any year now?

 Definitely later this millenium!

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wycombewheeler replied to eburtthebike | 9 months ago
3 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

Fear not!  The report on highway laws will be out any day now!  Or is that any year now?

before or after the results from the consultation on banning pavement parking?

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wycombewheeler replied to Robert Hardy | 9 months ago
6 likes

Robert Hardy wrote:

If you hit a vulnerable road user with a vehicle at any speed that is sufficient to cause injury that is dangerous, if your lack of care caused that situation then by definition you have driven dangerously and the law needs to be toughened up to reflect the fact.

extend that to anyone that demolishes street furniture on the pavement. It's only luck that a person was not there. Loss of control causing the vehicle to leave the road and knock down a lamp post, signpost, railing, traffic light control box, fence, brick wall etc etc could easily be fatal. Yet all these are just treated as whoopsies for the insurance to resolve and no consequences for the dangerous driving aspect.

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mrb replied to wycombewheeler | 9 months ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

Robert Hardy wrote:

If you hit a vulnerable road user with a vehicle at any speed that is sufficient to cause injury that is dangerous, if your lack of care caused that situation then by definition you have driven dangerously and the law needs to be toughened up to reflect the fact.

extend that to anyone that demolishes street furniture on the pavement. It's only luck that a person was not there. Loss of control causing the vehicle to leave the road and knock down a lamp post, signpost, railing, traffic light control box, fence, brick wall etc etc could easily be fatal. Yet all these are just treated as whoopsies for the insurance to resolve and no consequences for the dangerous driving aspect.

This is so true. Pure luck that they don't injure or kill someone.

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tootsie323 | 10 months ago
7 likes

So, “a fine and penalty points will not do anything to correct poor driving habits”.

A driver being hit in the pockets twice (directly from the fine and indirectly, presumably through increased insurance premium due to points) won't make them think about their driving habits?

I'd argue that anything that involves being distracted by one's 'phone (whether actively using it or - in this case - reacting to it) whilst driving should result in a default points / fine regardless.

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bikes replied to tootsie323 | 10 months ago
9 likes

Presumably it was an incoming call, and she looked at the screen long enough to be able to read the ID of the incoming call.

I saw one driver on their phone today, the phone at their right ear making it very easy for others to observe, and two others using phones at traffic lights. All within 5 minutes. Drink driving has become socially unacceptable, why not phone use?

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wtjs replied to bikes | 9 months ago
1 like

I saw one driver on their phone today, the phone at their right ear making it very easy for others to observe, and two others using phones at traffic lights. All within 5 minutes. Drink driving has become socially unacceptable, why not phone use?

Because the police ignore handheld use while driving (the Old Timers have seen this before)- this is a drugged-up, shouting-crazy driver of MJ55 HRO showing me a bare breasted woman on his phone. Lancashire Constabulary: No Response.

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Owd Big 'Ead | 10 months ago
9 likes

If penalty points don't work, how about sending her to prison for 12 months instead.
That should get the message across, surely?

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Runtilyoudrop replied to Owd Big 'Ead | 9 months ago
1 like

Owd Big 'Ead wrote:

If penalty points don't work, how about sending her to prison for 12 months instead. That should get the message across, surely?

chances are the magistrate would let her off when she plea's mitigation as her cat has been unwell or similar 

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mattw | 10 months ago
11 likes

Really, really appalling policing.

These ignorant policemen are very concerning.

In this case they have denied the victim the opportunity of Court ordered compensation for injury and damage. Where careless driving has caused injury or cost, Magistrates are required to explain their reasons when they do not order compensation.

This police officer seems not to be aware that Magistrates Courts have (I think) a power to order a driving ban in relation to careless driving separate from points etc, under "ancillary orders" and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, and Section 163 of the Sentencing Act 2020.

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/explanatory-material/magistrates-co...
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2020/17/section/163

I think we need an automatic extended test for totters before they get their licences back.

In law we are missing a "causing ABH by careless driving" offence. We have "causing serious injury.." which corresponds to GBH, but that roughly starts with broken bones. This was less but caused weeks off work.

I hope the victim takes the perp through the civih courts.

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IanMK | 10 months ago
14 likes

The problem is that the police treat this like any other car crash. I can't remember the number but I think it's 70,000 insurance claims a year. How many did the police investigate? If someone was hurt they claim on insurance. Most of those drivers never even went on a course let alone received ponts. The way to make roads safer is to remove bad drivers not retrain them. If a driver has no spacial awareness and no self control no amount of training will correct that

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ymm | 10 months ago
12 likes

Yet again the police fail to fulfil the basic role of policing, and fail to protect the public from harm. Car centric policing written all over this one. A complete joke of a decision on the police's part. Ridiculous!

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eburtthebike | 10 months ago
14 likes

“We feel that the result of this case was proportionate given the circumstances.”

No.

If points and fines don't change behaviour, their sole purpose, then they should be scrapped.  If they aren't scrapped, it's because they work.  Some re-training of some officers required.

Maybe next time Paul should consider joining a cycling organisation with their dedicated legal department, like CUK, which has got me a lot of money I'm pretty sure I'd never have seen otherwise.

All the best for a full and speedy recovery.

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Bungle_52 | 10 months ago
11 likes

The first thing that popped into my mind was that if anyone is in any doubt about how dangerous mobile phones in cars are I think this example is good evidence that they are. I am assuming she wasn't using the mobile but she says she pulled over to talk to her daughter and even without the details of the case it is fairly clear that the mobile was an important contributory factor to the alleged careless driving.

As for points not improving driving they may be correct but once you reach 12 points the rest of us are spared the consequences of the poor driving for a while at least.

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to Bungle_52 | 10 months ago
16 likes

Bungle_52 wrote:

As for points not improving driving they may be correct but once you reach 12 points the rest of us are spared the consequences of the poor driving for a while at least.

I hate to tell you this, but no we aren't.  There are thousands of drivers out there with more than 12 points who are still allowed to drive because of "hardship".  The hardship of their victims isn't a material consideration in the process.

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ErnieC replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
1 like

How it works these days. The focus is on the poor criminal, from a disadvantaged background. No concern for the victims, just so long as we show compassion for the oppressed and downtrodden all is good with the world. Vigilantism needs to make a return. 

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Bungle_52 replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
1 like

Yeah I did know but I thought the government had promised to deal with that problem.

I guess they still haven't got round to it.

Would claiming you need to drive in order to be able to talk with family count as hardship?

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eburtthebike replied to Bungle_52 | 10 months ago
2 likes

Bungle_52 wrote:

Yeah I did know but I thought the government had promised to deal with that problem.

And you believed them?!  I have a bridge to sell you.

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Bungle_52 replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
0 likes

Send me the pictures.

 1

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eburtthebike replied to Bungle_52 | 9 months ago
1 like

Bungle_52 wrote:

Send me the pictures.

 1

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Robert Hardy replied to eburtthebike | 10 months ago
3 likes

The courts should be emphasizing the dangers to their 'clients' when they hand out the previous 9 points, if the driver choses not to mend their ways then there should be no power available to magistrates to lessen the consequences, the sheer fact that they have failed to learn to drive within the law despite the importance of being licenced to drive to their lives should count against consideration of their suitability to hold that privilege.

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Cycloid | 10 months ago
23 likes

 

Police say penalty points “will not do anything to correct poor driving habits”

They would if :-

They caught more Bad Drivers - Prosecuted them - And Enforced to 12 points Rule .

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chrisonabike replied to Cycloid | 10 months ago
3 likes

Amen.

Everybody - what do points mean?

Nothing, if there's little chance of getting any* and if more points just means ... more points.

*outside of a few well advertised locations. And we've all heard "it's just entrapment and miking the poor motorist. The police deliberately waited just where the speed limit changed and didn't put out big flashing signs in advance to warn us they were there! " )

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Bungle_52 replied to Cycloid | 10 months ago
1 like

Cycloid wrote:

 

Police say penalty points “will not do anything to correct poor driving habits”

They would if :-

They caught more Bad Drivers - Prosecuted them - And Enforced to 12 points Rule .

They don't even need to catch them. There is an army of volunteers willing to spend time, energy and money capturing and submtting video evidence of poor driving to the the police. All they need to do is act on it.

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