Cyclists call for strict liability law

April 16, 2013 | By | In News

Cycling safety campaigners in Scotland are calling for a change in the law to make motorists automatically at fault in the event of an accident.

A change would make hitting a cyclist a 'strict liability' offence, much like speeding, where a lower standard of proof is required to establish guilt. It would effectively mean motorists would have to prove their innocence in front of the courts should an accident occur.

The UK is currently one of only five European countries, including Cyprus, Malta Romania and Ireland that do not enforce cyclist safety in this way.

Seven cyclists were killed and over 150 injured in Scotland in 2011.

Campaigners say a change in the law would not only make the roads safer for cyclists but also reduce the time taken for accident victims to be awarded compensation.

But opponents to the idea have said the idea is an example of the "arrogance" of cyclists.

Speaking to the BBC, Alan Douglas, motoring journalist and Institute of Advanced Motorists member said: "I think this is an absolutely astonishing suggestion. Everyone using the roads is subject to the same law.

"We all have equal responsibility, and surely the person who should be held responsible for an accident is the person who causes it.

"This assumption that it is always the motorist at fault is absolutely breath-taking. It smacks of the sort of arrogance that we hear from some cyclists."

Any strict liability law would involve a hierarchy of vulnerability of different road users, meaning cyclists would automatically be held responsible for any accident involving pedestrians.

Hoping to push a private member's bill through the Scottish Parliament, the Campaign for Strict Liability: Road Share, which is supported by Cycle Law Scotland, driving school RED, and a number of cycling groups, has launched an online petition to gain support.

Should we see a similar law passed in England? Have your say in the comments section below.

Picture credit: Flickr/Elliot Brown

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