Saturday 17 December 2016

A letter to Smiths of Gloucestershire, re the blind overtake of their van VE08NKX


I'm the cyclist the driver of your van VE08NKX chose to overtake on a blind corner on Belmont Hill, Somerset, at 15:46 on 25 November.

I'm the cyclist who shouted a warning to your driver that there was an oncoming car —a warning he chose to ignore:

And I'm the cyclist who videoed your van nearly hitting the oncoming car.

That car braked to avoid a collision, incidentally, and we both waved an acknowledgement to each other of how close it had been.

I've not got in touch before; I was waiting to see how Avon and Somerset Police were going to respond to the complaint that I'd filed online with them. As the time limit for them to file a Notice of Impending Prosecution has expired and they are yet to get in touch, the answer is: nothing.

Your driver has to consider themselves lucky to have not only avoided a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle, but to avoid any form of punishment from the police for nearly doing so. That is despite the irrefutable video evidence showing them ignoring a shouted warning and overtaking where they had no visibility. If A&S Police were to adopt the prosecute-on-video-evidence policy which the Central Midlands Police are now operating, they would now be facing a choice between prosecution to Dangerous Driving or pleading guilty to the lesser offence of Careless Driving.

As it is: no prosecution, no pleading, no penalty, no points on their license, and no insurance premium.

That fact reflects as badly on our local police as it does on your employee.

Given the police's utter inaction, you can report to your driver that this particular near-crash won't result in any prosecution.

However, you do need to consider your brand tainted. It's clear from your website that you take site safety as seriously as it needs to be —but it's also clear from the video that your staff are treating off site safety with utter disdain. This driver endangered other road users in a van with your business name and telephone number painted on three sides of the vehicle, making identifying this employer trivial. The more incidents like this, the more videos of your drivers will go online, the more that safety theme gets devalued.

Please: tell your driver that in a world of helmet cameras and dashcams —the era of "getting away" with dangerous driving is over. If they drive dangerously in their free time, it is only the lives of themselves and others and their own driving license which they endanger. When they do it in company vehicles, it is your vehicles they are also threatening, your insurance premiums they are risking, and your brand that they are destroying,

Thursday 1 December 2016

The Psychology of Overtaking and VE08NXK

There is surprisingly little literature available online on the topic of The Psychology of Overtaking.

One paper you can find dates from 1997, Overtaking Road-accidents: Differences in Manoeuvre as a Function of Driver Age, by Clarke et al, of Nottingham University

Without going into the details, in particular questioning whether there's enough information on the general population of drivers and overtakers to reach conclusions about age, it does contain a good introductory summary of past work.

One quote in particular stands out
Wilson and Greensmith (1983) returned to the theme of the ‘‘inertial driver’’ in their multivariate analysis of drivers’ accident status in relation to observed driving patterns, gender and exposure. They report that accident-involved drivers drive more quickly ‘‘...and move around continually (especially overtaking) in traffic’’. The typical inertial driver differs from his high-exposure accident-free counterpart, in that he seems unwilling to change speeds in response to conditions by using gear changes, deceleration or braking.
This is interesting, as it does document a common behaviour you encounter on a bike: the driver willing to endanger themselves and others rather than tap on the brakes.

Here is a classic example on Belmont Hill, N. Somerset

Although it's a sharp bend, the gradient of the hill means that you can see oncoming traffic, especially when they have their lights on in the late afternoon. Look up to the top right of the picture and you can see a car coming down the hill. Bear in mind, it is still daylight, there may be an unlit vehicle or cyclist, and they would not be visible.

The presence of the car hasn't stopped the van VE08NXK from choosing to overtake precisely at the corner, going round the bend on completely the wrong side of the road. Either they hadn't looked or they didn't care. The driver coming down the hill was distinctly unhappy.

It would be really interesting to see what the reasoning of the driver was here. We cannot but suspect that it would be a "the cyclist forced me to make a dangerous overtake" claim, when really it was a "I was unwilling to adjust my speed in any way". Maybe we shall find out, having just reported them to A&S police as part of "Grass a Driver week".