Via Cycle Law Scotland:
Cyclist safety in Scotland has reached a critical point. According to Transport Scotland, 156 cyclists were seriously injured on Scotland’s roads in 2011, the last year for which data is available. This represents an increase of 13% from 2010 and of 34% from its lowest point in 2005. Add to this the seven cyclists that were tragically killed on the roads in 2011 and you can clearly see that something desperately needs to be done to protect vulnerable road users.
This is why Cycle Law Scotland (CLS) is today launching a campaign to change Scots civil law to introduce strict liability for the protection of cyclists and other vulnerable road users who are involved in road traffic accidents. This change to the current law is designed to protect the most vulnerable road users and to reflect a road user hierarchy based on mutual respect between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
We believe that while the Scottish Government is encouraging more people to take up cycling to improve their health, it must also provide the legal protection afforded to others and strict liability in civil law is the proper approach for a mature socially conscious nation as it addresses the unacceptable human cost of the current system. At present, cyclists injured in accidents involving a car currently wait, on average, 6-9 months to receive compensation, when the case is relatively straightforward. In serious or fatal injuries, the cyclists or their families can wait in excess of two years before their case is decided. This situation is untenable, as in all cases handled by CLS, primary fault and responsibility always rests with the driver of the motorised vehicle.
We will be taking the campaign to the Cross-Party Group on Cycling in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 18 April, 2013 and will be pushing for a private members’ bill as a catalyst to a change in the law.
You can get involved in the following ways:-
– Visit our website for more information regarding the key messages, to review the arguments and a Q and A.
– Like our Facebook page (username: cyclelawscotland) to show your support and share our posts with your fans.
– Follow us on Twitter and retweet to your own followers.
– Sign our e-petition on the Scottish Government website.
– Share this information within your organisation and with cyclists across Scotland.
The UK is out of step with the rest of Europe being one of only five countries on the Continent that does not operate a system of strict liability for road users, alongside Cyprus, Malta, Romania and Ireland. If Scotland does not want to be seen to be lagging behind, it has the opportunity to take a lead in the UK and change the system.
Under strict liability, when a cyclist is injured by a motorised vehicle they automatically receive compensation. Likewise, when a pedestrian is injured by a motorised vehicle or bicycle, strict liability shall ensure they are granted automatic compensation as well. The party liable, however, will be able to present evidence that the cyclist or pedestrian was at least partly to blame, thereby ensuring fairness in proceedings.
Crucially, in this time of straitened public finances, it is also more cost effective than the current system. As strict liability ensures injured cyclists and pedestrians promptly receive just compensation, it thereby avoids the need for expensive litigation. This not only would see the cost burden of insurers fall, but avoiding court proceedings will reduce pressure on the public purse as well.
Cycle Law Scotland was set up by lawyers who as keen cyclists recognised the need for a specialist legal service for those involved in a road traffic accident through no fault of their own. Together with my 25 years as a personal injury solicitor, we bring personal experience of the problems and hazards cyclists encounter while travelling on Scotland’s roads to ensure cyclists involved in accidents and their families receive the best possible legal advice and personal representation.
In those countries in Europe where we see extremely high numbers of cyclists, strict liability exists as an integral part of a holistic approach to encouraging safer roads for cyclists, with the consequent health and environmental benefits this brings. This is our chance to begin to effect the step-change needed to bring Scotland in line with its cycling ambitions.