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A Reason to Ride Carefully

Blog Date - 12 March 2012

The laws on the road are supposed to be clear and you'd hope they'd be easy to follow.  In fact they are vague, open to interpretation and more confusing that you might think.  You'd also think that if you ride within the law and you ride safely and carefully then the law will protect you.  If you believe any of this you need to think again.

I try my very best to keep within the law.  I'm amazed just how few people even  try.  Every time I'm on the bike it's almost certain to see someone driving with a mobile glued to their ear.  Only a handful of drivers keep to the speed limits unless they're passing a speed camera.  Some drivers are aggressive, ignorant, rude and downright dangerous.  It all to often feels like survival of the fittest on the roads.

I  was riding down the main road the other day, as you do.  Sure enough a car in front was turning left into a side road and through that car's windows I could see another car emerging from the junction heading my direction.  I duly positioned myself wide to the right so the emerging car could see me rather than hiding behind the turning car.  By the time the turning car had slowed to 15mph to take the corner I was visible and getting close to the junction.  I could have hit the gas and taken my right of way of the emerging car but I knew what was coming.  The emerging car simply pulled out into my path causing me to slow even more.  I flashed my lights in frustration but there's no point, the driver did not care.

I did consider running into the side of the car.  I could have put a legitimate claim in, he came into my path, my right of way.  But the law does not work like that.   I would have started on a long and pointless road full of insurance assessors, hospitals, pain, anguish and worst of all, solicitors.  Although there were plenty of witnesses witness statements are at best vague.  Although the right of way is clear there are always mitigating circumstances.  Even if the stars align in your favour you will not receive a payout for 2 years, not when you need the money most which is when you're off work and suffering pain.

The driver would simply claim I was speeding.  He would claim I was hidden behind the car.  He would claim I was wearing dark clothing making me invisible.  Then some fancy dancy solicitor would suggest I waved him on, flashed my lights to let him through, had been doing a wheelie at the time and I drove directly at his client.  If the accident is serious then the police report will not be available for at least a year and my solicitor cannot move until he has this.  If the accident is not serious and if there is a police report it will have been scribbled up by some poor overworked copper who normally works the beat not traffic.  Of course there may not be a police report at all, then it really is a case of my word against his.

So after all this perhaps the best you can hope for is a 50-50 knock for knock situation.

Does this happen?  Of course it does.  I have 2 friends at the moment in exactly this situation.   On lad was t-boned by a taxi and his bike hit an innocent bystander, breaking her leg.  Of course the taxi driver and his solicitor are making all kind of excuses, witness are disappearing and withdrawing favourable statements, the police report is not worth the paper it's written on and a policeman in attendance sent a favourable letter but even he's becoming vague now the pressure's on.  Another friend was hit by an oncoming car running wide into a bend.  She's claiming he was speeding excessively, he was on her side of the road and he'd driven at her in anger.  It'll take years to unravel these cases and I doubt the outcome will be fair in either case.

So who would be the winner if I did drive into the side of that car?  There's only ever one winner.  Solicitors and lawyers.  

So I'll continue to drive carefully and defensively.  I'll not always get it right, I'll not always spot the next danger and I'm sure that my riding is far from perfect too.   

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