Deal with a collision

What to do if you are involved in a collision or witness dangerous driving

Campaign members have recently been meeting with West Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner and here's the advice on what to do in the event of a collision:

If you are involved in a collision in which someone is hurt, contact the police immediately and they will attend, take statements and decide what action needs to be taken. An ambulance will probably attend as well: obey the paramedics. Often injuries to cyclists may seem trivial (bruises and scrapes) but you may not know the full extent of the damage immediately. Reporting the incident is the first step in getting redress (eg from the driver's insurance) if the collision wasn't your fault. Do not be bullied by a driver who wants to avoid reporting the incident.  Be very wary of the usual excuse given by drivers: "sorry mate, I didn't see you". This is usually another way of saying "I wasn't looking/did something stupid/ignored you and now feel really bad/frightened you'll sue me so can't we just forget about it?".

Near-misses, and cases of bullying, intimidating or downright reckless driving are more difficult to pin down. If you felt in danger, it's worth reporting the incident to the police. This also applies to incidents involving buses, commercial vehicles and taxis. Non-emergency incidents should be reported to 101. You should state that you are reporting a case of anti-social or dangerous driving. You will be asked for more details and should be given a reference number which confirms that the incident has been logged. 

When reporting incidents to the 101 service, lack of specific detail can hinder police response. The location is important and call centre staff might not be familiar with streets in Leeds: they need road names, junctions etc to pinpoint the location. And don’t forget the wonder of lamp posts: each one has a number which the police can use to locate it. Details of vehicles involved are critical – registration and colour, plus basic details of the car like whether it’s a hatchback or saloon, or the make and model if you recognise them. Registration number and colour are usually enough for the police to identify the vehicle, and it’s important to get a description of the driver if you can. Partial registrations can be used but you stand a far better chance of getting a positive ID from a complete one.

101 callers have sometimes been told they cannot log incidents without visiting a police station. This isn't the case and West Yorkshire Police are working on an online reporting system for cycling near-misses, due to be released in 2015. If the police feel it's appropriate to pursue a prosecution, they will need a formal statement and this may require you to visit a police station to give the statement. It's good practice to write down everything you can remember as soon as you can after an incident.

The police can use video evidence. The footage must be clear and show the vehicle and registration (quite easy with modern head-cams). If you have video evidence, say that you will make it available and want it to be viewed by a police officer. 

A police officer will then contact you to discuss what has happened. They may want to visit you and view the footage, or ask you to bring it to a police station. This follow up to the initial reporting may not be immediate and is likely to be carried out by a member of your local Neighbourhood Police Team. They will decide what action to take.

If it was just a near-miss, what can the police do? The first step is to 'advise' the driver. This might be over the telephone or in person. If the driver didn't realise their behaviour had caused a problem, it might be a wake up call to have the police call, or turn up outside their house or workplace. The police will explain that a complaint has been made and whether it was captured on video. The police should then call you back to tell you what they have done.

If the incident is particularly bad, the police can issue a Section 59 notice for anti-social driving. What this means is in practice is that if the driver does anything similar in the next 12 months (in any vehicle) then the police can seize the vehicle, and crush it if the owner doesn't pay costs of recovery and storage. This is one very good reason to report incidents – you might be providing the crucial evidence that combined with existing can get a reckless driver off the road.

It is thankfully uncommon to be involved in a serious collision, but even 'little knocks' can have serious consequences on a cyclist, and we should not ignore them. Reporting a minor incident now could save a life in the future.

The Cycle Touring Club provides excellent advice on their SMIDSY web site, including this fact sheet which is worth printing and keeping with your puncture repair kit. It explains what to do if you are invovled in an accident, minor or serious. The CTC also provide a legal service via its own solicitors. This is available to CTC members and well worth considering.