Driving safety message home to cyclists and motorists

With the cycling season and Tour de Yorkshire well underway, local officers have been out and about offering advice to motorists and cyclists in relation to safety on the roads and safe passing distances.

West Yorkshire Police were amongst the first in the country to roll out the 'Safe Pass' initiative when they launched the scheme in Leeds back in May 2017.  

Since then, plain clothed and uniformed officers from across Yorkshire's largest force have been on proactive pedal patrol on the city's busiest roads identifying motorists who pass too close for comfort, fail to give way at junctions or are distracted from having a proper view whilst driving.

Offenders who pass too close to the cyclist are offered an on-the-spot educational input on safe overtaking using a specially designed floor mat. Anyone who declines to take part in the tutorial, or who is deemed to have committed a particularly hazardous overtaking manoeuvre could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. Rules of the road stipulate motorists should give cyclists and other vulnerable road users such those on horseback at least the same space as vehicles when overtaking. A student participating in a DVSA practical driving test would fail the assessment if they performed an overtake manoeuvre without giving sufficient space (approximately 1.5 metres) and the DVSA test can be regarded as the required standard of a careful and competent driver when considering prosecution.  

On average, we record around three incidents every day where a cyclist and vehicle have been in a collision on the county's roads. Frighteningly, several people have lost their lives on our roads and this is something we want to address and reduce.

This initiative isn't about picking on or penalising motorists, it is about making sure our roads are safer for everyone. With the success of Tour de Yorkshire we support our partners in wanting to get more people to feel confident in cycling in the county by making sure the roads are safer for cyclists and all vulnerable road users.

Police Sergeant Gary Roper of the West Yorkshire Police Roads Policing Support Unit said; "This initiative has been successfully used by our colleagues in West Midlands Police and has increased driver awareness and alertness in identifying cyclists and other vulnerable road users, giving them safe sufficient space when overtaking and taking more care to look for them at junctions. Analysis of road traffic collisions involving cyclists in West Yorkshire identifies that failing to look at junctions is the most common cause for drivers at fault and this failure to look can have devastating consequences. The main aim of this initiative is to increase driver observations to include cyclists and all vulnerable road users thereby reducing the risk of collisions as a result of a failure to look." 

Drivers who are identified as failing to look during the initiative will be subject to an eyesight test and the option of a roadside educational input to raise awareness of the issues presented to cyclists (such as the primary and secondary riding positions). If the driver passes the eyesight test and agrees to participate in the educational input then no further action will be taken in relation to prosecution. If a driver is identified committing a more serious offence, such as driving whilst using a mobile phone or dangerous driving then they may be subject to prosecution.  

Most frequently, incidents where cyclists are injured in a collision with a vehicle are on urban roads with junctions. Most often during the working week, Monday - Friday during the regular commute to work, with the afternoon/ evening commute seeing the numbers being twice as high. Cars are involved in 87% of the collisions with cyclists and 75% of those recorded the car driver being at fault.

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