Monday, 26 October 2009

It's Blame the Victims Time

When the clocks go back in late October and we all find ourselves setting off home in the dark it's traditional to mark the change with a flurry of press releases trying to place the blame for road collisions and casualties firmly on the shoulders of the victims.

Here is one example of this autumn's crop from an organisation calling itself Road Safety GB, which was formerly unknown as the Local Authority Road Safety Officers Association, a bunch of career bureaucrats who have taken the concept of ineffectuality to new depths. 

"Road Safety GB has launched a campaign to highlight the extent of the danger presented to children by the darker evenings that follow October’s clock change."

And that danger is? We're not exactly told, except that -

"The national campaign encourages children to wear bright, reflective clothing, especially for walks to and from school" 

So the danger, it seems, arises from children behaving irresponsibly by wearing school uniforms or, even worse, fashionable and practical clothes on their way to and from school. Do Road Safety GB tell us why this should be so dangerous? Er no, it appears to be assumed that everyone 'knows' why wearing normal clothes is irresponsible and dangerous. All we get is a reiteration of the blame mantra -

"Be Bright, Be Seen’ places the responsibility on people of all ages to ensure children wear bright, reflective clothing.."

"...twice the number of child pedestrians were killed on the nation’s roads in November compared with October and December, while there is a 10% increase in the overall number of pedestrian fatalities...During the week, nearly 40% of all pedestrian casualties occur between 3pm and 6pm."

No mention of how our children are getting killed. Do they spontaneously combust perhaps? Or get struck by lightning?  Or might it possibly have something to do with all those cars hurtling around, routinely breaking speed limits, jumping red lights, failing to stop at Zebras, driving on footways, chatting on mobiles, texting and generally fiddling with electronic devices rather than bothering to do anything as boring as actually looking where they're going?

No mention of cars or motor vehicles whatsoever in the Road Safety GB press release. No mention of speeding, no mention of the need to stop on red or at Zebra crossings, no mention of the dangers of driving on footways, chatting on mobiles, texting and all the rest. All we get is the subtlest hint, no more, of the possible involvement of motorists -

"...but Road Safety GB is also calling for adults and drivers to be more aware at this time of year....also on rush hour drivers to be especially watchful during their journeys, ensuring headlights are working correctly."

So what is it that 'adults and drivers' are supposed to be more aware of? Oh yes, that their headlights are working correctly. So it seems we 'adults and drivers' can carry on speeding, texting and chatting on mobiles to our hearts' content providing our headlights are working correctly. According to Road Safety GB these things are so insignificant as to be unworthy of even the slightest mention in a road safety press release and who are we to argue with these supine, self-serving pathetic parasites.

So motorists, when you're multi-tasking in your car, speeding along residential streets while chatting on your mobile, and some child gets in YOUR way and ends up a mangled, lifeless heap in the gutter, remember the Road Safety GB advice and be sure to check whether the child was wearing 'bright reflective clothing'. Unless your very unlucky the child won't be so you can rest assured that the blame is entirely theirs. As long as your headlights were working correctly of course.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

Surely the reason this doesn't mention all those things as this is a poster targeted at children. I don't know if they have a similar poster targeting the creators of the danger - hopefully they aren't ignoring it completely. I agree that the responsibility for avoiding an accident shouldn't be the child's but if a bit of reflective tape helps then so be it. But I remember similar campaigns from when I was a child too. The fact is that school uniforms are dark and makes the child more invisible.

woodsy said...

I like the way a distinction is made between adults and drivers. Am I to assume this is to emphasise that driving is not an activity not indulged in by adults?

Chris Hutt said...

Anon "The fact is that school uniforms are dark and makes the child more invisible"

More invisible? I suppose you mean harder to see. Well if you can't see people on the street then you shouldn't be driving. It's that's simple.

Anonymous said...

I think high viz is useful to make it easier to be seen, when I cycle at this time of year I tend to wear it as I know it makes being seen easier. I was out in my car yesterday doing a journey I could not make by bike and I noticed several cyclists who were very hard to be seen. Surely high viz is a good thing.

Chris Hutt said...

Anon "I noticed several cyclists who were very hard to be seen."

But you noticed them so what's the problem?

I drive and cycle and I've never had a problem seeing a person on a lit street irrespective of what they were wearing.

It isn't an issue, except for people with defective vision, but they shouldn't be driving in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Don't understand why you are getting on your high horse about this. At this time of year there are plenty of cyclists and pedestrians alike who walk/cycle on unlit roads wearing dark clothing [and in the cyclists case no or inappropriate lights].

Trying to make out that it is always the drivers of big bad cars at fault shows the mentality of the author. Living by the rule 'be seen be safe' should be above fashion and think it is good to promote that children should wear appropriate high viz.

Anonymous said...

Other anon..reason for high horse is because Mr Hutt likes high horses..it makes his life a bit better. In response to Mr Hutt's comment:

Anon "I noticed several cyclists who were very hard to be seen."

But you noticed them so what's the problem?

The problem is I saw them very late and it would have been so much better to see them earlier. Roads have risk..that is a fact reducing the risk through high viz is surely a good thing. As it reducing speed limits etc.

Chris Hutt said...

The press release I criticised is mainly about danger to child pedestrians who are overwhelmingly using lit streets. Unlit roads are another matter but largely irrelevant to the issues raised by the press release.

It is the warped attitude of the author of the press release that should be of concern to you. These people presume to call themselves road safety officers but dare not see the elephant in the room.

Their job is to deflect criticism away from the real culprits and blame the most vulnerable victims, in this case schoolchildren. It sickens me.

woodsy said...

Their job is to deflect criticism away from the real culprits...

Too true. Who commenting here is old enough to remember RoSPA's "killer trees" campaign? This advocated cutting down roadside trees to prevent drivers crashing into them rather than concentrating on the real problem of bad driving.

Anonymous said...

Don't get too sickened!! The BNP make me sick. Glad you agree high viz is a good thing.

Andy in Germany said...

Thankfully we have a different law here: In a collision between a car and a child, the driver of the car is always at fault. No exceptions.

This is because if you are licenced to control a heavy, fast moving piece of metal, you have to be able to do it without hurting others who are more vulnerable. Regardless of what they wear.

Unfortunately in the UK a sort of feudalism seems to exist: If you are one of the motorised gentry you can blame the peasantry for getting in the way.

Hang in there Chris. The tide will tuen...

Chris Hutt said...

Hi-viz is a good thing, is it? So do you, Anon, wear hi-viz at all times, walking or driving (for when you get out of your car) and what colour is your car?

Chris Hutt said...

Andy in Germany, we need to adopt the same attitude here, but when even the road safety officers' own trade body is spouting the old 'blame the victim' nonsense what hope do we have?

Anonymous said...

Yes on a bike it is a good thing. You can be seen more clearly and essentially the roads are the domain on the motorised vehicule..right or wrong that is the fact. Your battle is to reduce the numbers of cars..fair enough! We all choose different campaigns in life, well actually most don't give too much of a fuck about anything. Reducing cars on the road is a campaign that does simple not inspire me as much as other campiagns. Until the circumstances change I will continue to wear high viz.

Anonymous said...

And if it makes kids safer then I agree with that too.

Jon Rogers said...

Chris says, "I drive and cycle and I've never had a problem seeing a person on a lit street irrespective of what they were wearing."

How would you know?

Some years ago I was driving and failed to see a cyclist when it was dark and raining hard. He had no lights on his bicycle, and was wearing dark clothing.

Chris Hutt said...

Fair point Jon, I've no way of knowing how many people I haven't noticed, by definition.

But I can say that I've never experienced a significant problem arising because someone on a lit street wasn't wearing 'bright, reflective clothing'. Nor have I experienced a problem arising from my not wearing 'bright reflective clothing' myself.

It should be a condition of holding a driving licence that one accepts the Highway Code requirement to always be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear.

If it's dark and/or raining then it's obviously necessary to drive less fast to compensate for a reduced ability to see that the road ahead is clear. But of course the Road Safety Officers daren't suggest that drivers should bear any such responsibility.

Chris Hutt said...

Jon, simple test. Let's meet down at the centre at 5 pm and cycle around the 'pedestrianised' areas (where cycling is allowed) and we'll see how many pedestrians you (because I don't have a problem with it) collide with and what proportion of them are wearing dark clothing as opposed to light.

Then we'll compare that ratio with the ratio of pedestrians wearing dark and light clothing. If you collide with a statistically greater proportion of dark clothed pedestrians than a random sample would produce we can conclude that you have a problem seeing pedestrians in dark clothing.

If we obtain such a result the next question will be should all pedestrians be compelled to wear light clothing for your benefit or should you be banned from cycling in pedestrian areas?

Anonymous said...

I do find it weird Chris that you constantly refer back to the Highway Code and how it should be followed to the letter. Then in the next breath confirm you cycle through red lights etc... just because other road users do.

It's no wonder there is this us vs. them mentality.

Anonymous said...

Not sure the best use of a Cllrs time. Surely speed is the difference between cycling in a pedestrian area and the speed of pedestrians and the speed cars and bikes on a main road. I know what you are getting at or maybe I don't.

Anonymous said...

To be fair a lot of cyclists I see when I am out and about on my bike are pretty terrible at sticking to the rules of the road. Many seem to be totally unaware of others.

Andy in Germany said...

Interestingly, deivers here now have to carry a hi-viz vest in their car, and use it if they have a breakdoewn and need to leave the car.

If people choose to wear hi-viz clothing as pedestrians or cyclists, that's fine by me. I don't though, partly because drivers here are more careful.

As Hi-Vuz is clearly seen as the answer in the UK, how about this. Every car has to have a strip of reflective material on the back, at least 11% of the total rear-facing surface of the car: red and white reflective stripes would be good, or yellow and red, choice is yours. After all, That saves lives, right? so put it on cars- think of all those poor drivers going about in a state of semi-invisibility. How about it Cllr Anon? a cause for you!

Anonymous said...

Andy in Germany said...

"Thankfully we have a different law here: In a collision between a car and a child, the driver of the car is always at fault. No exceptions."

Apart from jaywalking (aka crossing a road without being given explicit right-of-way by correctly using a pedestrian crossing); as I understand it, it's illegal in Germany, legal in the UK.

Chris Hutt said...

Yes Andy, and what about all the black and grey painted posts and bollards that are routinely stuck all over footways and cycle tracks over here? How come they don't need to be bright and reflective?

If cyclists are expected to see black or grey posts on lit paths then why can't motorists be expected to see people dressed in black or grey?

As for the Anons, can't you lot register some sort of name so we can tell who is who? It gets very confusing.

Chris Hutt said...

Anon 10.35.

You're absolutely right that speed is the critical factor. The main road safety problem is that motorists (and sometimes cyclists) go too fast for the circumstances.

That is very much the point that was completely overlooked by the so-called road safety officers and which I laboured somewhat in my critique.

The message at this time of year should be that we all need to slow down to compensate for the reduced visibility, but the spineless road safety officers dare not say this.

Anonymous said...

Yes slow down but also help others to see you clearly. Appropriate lights, obey the rules of the road and if you feel better use high viz and put your kids in high viz. You make all car drivers out to be murderers.

Chris Hutt said...

Anon 11.17 - "You make all car drivers out to be murderers."

If you read the original post you'll see that it's about the way that road safety officers are making out that child pedestrians and their parents are the 'murderers' because they don't dress in some ridiculous fashion decreed by a bunch of anal bureaucrats.

My point is that it's motorists, and to a lesser extent cyclists, who create the danger and must therfore bear all the responsibility.

It is utterly outrageous to try to blame the victims because of the way they dress.

Anonymous said...

Just don't make it them and us! I find it funny your refer to the RSO as anal. You could be charged with the same offence.

Chris Hutt said...

It is 'them and us'. The ones who create the danger and the ones who are the victims of it. Motorists and pedestrians. Cyclists fall a little in between.

Before you accuse others of being anal you might like to consider what psychological anomaly draws you so compulsively to this blog.

Anonymous said...

Boredom sadly..you are right I am off to make use of my day off. Debate over. Nothing wrong with being anal, don't be so sensitive.

Chris Hutt said...

Sensitive, moi? If I cared that much about what other people think of me would I splurge my deviant thoughts all over a public blog using my real name?

Andy in Germany said...

Hello Anonymous...

Technically I think it is supposed to be illegal, but it makes no difference, especially if it's a child. If I am driving (car or bike) and I hit a child thenunder the law I have been driving in an unsafe way because I couldn't stop in time.

I can of course try and argue the case, but that's the way it will start.

Anonymous said...

Pointless comments from a car hating cyclist!

Chris Hutt said...

Yes Anon, that was a totally pointless comment you just made. Why not make another?

Paul said...

Hi Chris,

Your arguments with motorists remind me of watching two children fighting.

The first one will hit the other, the other will hit back, then vice versa and so on and so on and so on. Eventually they will be told off and both will explain 'Well he started it!' before both running off to the Council... I mean their mum...crying for attention.

Rather than taking the option of 'If other road users and not going to behave/follow highway code etc... I'm purposefully going to do the same’. Set an example, show how it should be done, be the bigger man. You would get a lot more respect from Bristol (and certainly me) as a whole rather than only making the motorist vs. cycling 'war' worse. One, in which cyclists have a lot more to lose in an accident, as you have often pointed out.

Docsavage said...

some thoughts on all this.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/665/665.pdf Governments own research acepts that approximately some 80 lives a year could be saved by abandoning the clocks change, but would rather produce a leaflet than take action. (shifting the blame is easier than taking responsibility)

My son walks to and from school in his (dark) school uniform, he doesn't take a bright coat, or indeed any coat!(uniform crackdown means a dark coat anyhow) most days as he has nowhere to put it (no lockers provided)and his already overloaded rucksack is too heavy with the rest of the stuff he has to lug about - no safe facilities for students to store stuff.
basic really. (but it's easier to print a poster)

also I cycle wearing Hi Viz,and am equipped with very powerful lights, thats my choice.
tonights close call came with a driver on the phone, doing a left hand turn having indicated right. (a white peugot on Pennywell road - 18.10 ish) For all those anons who like to gripe about Chris's accusatory approach - I find he often has a very valid point, sadly underlined by the antics of some of the motorists out there.

Chris Hutt said...

Paul, you seem to have missed the point of the post. Neither the press release I criticised nor my comments on it mentioned cycling. It was about the motoring lobby (RSOs) trying to blame child pedestrians for the danger motorists create.

It was a string of anonymous commenters and then you who tried to make out that it was about cyclists versus motorists, presumably because you all feel more comfortable with a victim group who are not quite so blameless.

As for my getting more respect if I acted as some sort of model of respectability, I'm afraid you're wrong. The only things that get respect round here are money and power, and if you doubt that look at the way our council are ingratiating themselves with Steve Lansdown of BCFC.

Anonymous said...

It was about the motoring lobby (RSOs) trying to blame child pedestrians for the danger motorists create.

It was a string of anonymous commenters and then you who tried to make out that it was about cyclists versus motorists, presumably because you all feel more comfortable with a victim group who are not quite so blameless.


No I agreed in my other post that the responsibility shouldn't be with the child, but that as a parent if I can help my child to be seen by getting them to wear something bright or hi-vis to increase their chance of being seen then I'm going to consider it.

As it is my youngest does wear a hi-viz vest to primary school, as the route is cycling past lots of lorries and builders vehicles. And I didn't mention cyclists in my post either.

Chris Hutt said...

If you post as Anonymous and don't give us any means of distinguishing you from however many other anonymouses there are posting then how can I or anyone else distinguish between your comments and others?

Is it really too much trouble to register under some assumed name, or even just to sign your comments with a name so that we can see who is who, at least in relative terms?

On the issue, I'm not saying that people shouldn't have the choice of using hi-viz, helmets, St Christopher medals or whatever else makes them feel safer on the road.

But I assert that people must have the right to choose not to use such devices too. It's a matter of personal choice not state diktat.

The case looked at in this blog post is an example of an agency of the state presuming, despite its own record of persistent failure, to tell us how we should dress. It's none of their business.

MJ Ray said...

Is any group running a "give cyclists room" campaign? "THINK! Road Safety" have told me that it's not part of their work.

Anonymous said...

Hutt: "As for my getting more respect if I acted as some sort of model of respectability, I'm afraid you're wrong. The only things that get respect round here are money and power..."

Why do you bother then, as you have little of both, as do most of the population. Essentially your comment says if you don't have money or power then there is no point in behaving properly. That seems a little childish.

Adam said...

http://tiny.cc/pleasemrmotorist

Paul said...

Hi Chris,
Apologies, my comment was more of a comment on a comment in the comment sections for comments. It won’t happen again :(
Paul

Chris Hutt said...

Anon "Essentially your comment says if you don't have money or power then there is no point in behaving properly."

No, my comment said that behaving properly won't get you any respect. Not the same thing.

There are some cyclists who obey all the rules to the letter but they still get harassed, intimidated and endangered. Behaving 'properly' doesn't do them any good and may well do them harm.

I've said before that when motorists are willing to obey an agreed set of sensible rules then I'll do so too.

Chris Hutt said...

Paul, you're mocking me.

Your point was "Rather than taking the option of 'If other road users and not going to behave/follow highway code etc... I'm purposefully going to do the same’. Set an example, show how it should be done, be the bigger man. You would get a lot more respect from Bristol (and certainly me) as a whole rather than only making the motorist vs. cycling 'war' worse."

I think I've just answered that with my previous comment but I'll elaborate a bit.

As cyclists and/or pedestrians we find ourselves using a highway network that has been systematically adapted over many decades to accommodate large volumes of fast motor vehicles at the expense of the safety and convenience of walkers and cyclists.

So to get around and survive we have to use whatever dodges are available to us, many of which do not comply with all the rules. Pretty much every cyclist and pedestrian will do this to some extent and of course motorists routinely ignore things like speed limits and parking restrictions.

But some people are so fixated on whether something's legal or not that they lose sight of the much more important issue of whether it's safe or not. Most of what pedestrians and cyclists do that doesn't comply with the Highway Code is arguably reasonably safe in objective terms.

So the cyclist vs motorist 'war' is founded on a highly partisan interpretation of and obsession with what the rules require. Cycling City needs to recognise that and address it because it won't go away.

The way to address it is not to pander to the prejudices of one party or the other, as they have done so far with their purge on people cycling through red lights, but to look objectively at the extent of rule breaking overall and publish the results so that we can all see how prevalent rule breaking is by all parties.

Then people might decide that making a big deal of rule breaking per se isn't such a good idea after all. If cyclists can slip through a red light without endangering anybody what's the problem? If motorists drive a little over the speed limit when there are no other road users around what's the problem?

Better to focus on the actions that actually harass, intimidate or endanger other road users. There's plenty that could be identified if a rigorously objective assessment was carried out, although I doubt whether Cycling City could handle it.

Anonymous said...

"I've said before that when motorists are willing to obey an agreed set of sensible rules then I'll do so too."

Is that all motorists?? If you apply your rules to the wider world then you would have some big problems. The syndrome of "they don't behave so nor will I" Again slightly childish.

Anonymous said...

"So to get around and survive we have to use whatever dodges are available to us."

You make it sound like Kabul out there.

Adam said...

Last night I cycled away from a red light a few seconds early. If that constitutes red light jumping then I'm happy with that as the alternative was looking fairly unsafe.

As I was waiting at the red lights a car of boy racers pulled up behind me and drove up so as to touch their bumper on to my back wheel, attempting to nudge me forward. They then proceeded to rev their engine very very violently. I was to the right of the lane in the bicycle ASL waiting to turn right.

When I quickly glanced around to make a mental note of their number plate they started beeping their horn at me and revving the engine even more. The lights were still red and had been for about half a minute by this time.

After a few seconds of them beeping and revving more I was fairly sure I didn't want to be there when the lights turned green. I could see the lights for the traffic on the road we were joining reflected in the window over the road go from green to amber and as soon as they were on red I pedalled away very quickly, while the lights I was waiting at were still red about to turn amber.

I did this for my safety. I was a few seconds early to leave my junction but at least I wasn't being pushed along by or even under the car that was threatening me at the lights.

Adam said...

There are also studies going on in London to try to work out why almost all of the cyclists killed by left hand turning HGVs (now called LGVs) in London this year are women. So far they have found that women are more likely to wait at red lights, whereas men will more often pull away a couple of seconds early to get a head start on vehicles so they can be up to speed of cars etc.

So when lights go green and HGVs start to turn left a man is more likely to have got away early (breaking the highway code rules) and be well in front of the HGV, whereas women are more likely to just starting off as the HGV turns left not noticing that anyone is in the blind spot on it's left.

7 out of the 8 fatalities involving bikes and HGVs this year in London have been women.

Is there a connection? Is breaking the rules sometimes safer. Can disobeying the highway code at an appropriate time save your life?

There have been numerous incidents with HGVs, vans and cyclists in Bristol too this year. There are also even issues with smaller vehicles at lights, especially those that tend like to accelerate quickly away from the lights the moment they go green.

Adam said...

I should also point out that my incident from last night that I mentioned above is one of the many frequent things I have encountered over the years cycling. It's not a one off. Leaving the lights a couple of seconds early is one of the many strategies for survival I've had to adopt over the years.

Chris Hutt said...

Thanks Adam (and Docsavage earlier) for giving examples of the kind of thing that goes on daily on our streets.

In the face of such levels of deliberate harassment and intimidation one can hardly expect cyclists to give much priority to obeying the rules to the letter.

And there really is no comparison between that kind of deliberate harassment and slipping through a red light when conflicting movements are over.

Bristol Dave said...

My point is that it's motorists, and to a lesser extent cyclists, who create the danger and must therfore bear all the responsibility

A car is driving down the road at a sensible speed, within the limit. A pedestrian runs out RIGHT into the path of the car, from a very poorly-chosen place to cross behind a parked van. The driver has no chance to see them or stop, even at the sensible speed (or indeed any speed) they are driving at.

This occurrence has happened countless times.

Who has created the danger? Who is responsible?

Chris Hutt said...

I would still say the driver because the car has so much more destructive potential than the unarmed human body.

Just consider the physics. Human say 70 kgs travelling at 5 metres per second (running) has kinetic energy of 70 x 5 x 5 / 2 = 875 Joules. Car say 1000 kgs travelling at 10 mps (20 mph) = 50,000 Joules.

Would you rather be struck by 50,000 Joules or 875? Car has 57 times kinetic energy even at slow speed which means applied forces are vastly greater.

So motorists should bear responsibility in proportion to their contribution to the danger.

Bristol Dave said...

I would still say the driver

That says it all.

Your bias against the motorist is just astounding.

How on earth can you expect to be taken seriously with such an unreasonable and jaded outlook? Going on your replies, you really, honestly believe that cyclists and pedestrians should never be blamed for anything, and for any problem that ever happens on the road the motorist is entirely responsible. Read that sentence back to yourself and see if you think it sounds reasonable. As Anonymous pointed out earlier, you recite the Highway Code when it suits you, and try to justify your disregard for it applying to you when that suits you too.

How you can even think of speaking with any kind of authority on the subject with such blatant, blinkered bias I'll never know. Attempting to justify cyclist's bad behaviour by citing the "abuse" that cyclists get from motorists does little to lend you any credibility.

Pedestrians and Cyclists CAN BE and ARE at fault in many RTAs, and therefore SHOULD bear responsibility as well. If you can't recognise this, then you really need to sit down and think about whether you really should be having any kind of debate with anybody about it.

If you want to know who is doing the most damage to relations between motorists and cyclists, you only need look in the mirror.

Paul said...

Hi Chris,

And this one....

A bicycle is cycling down the road at a sensible speed, within the limit. A pedestrian runs out RIGHT into the path of the bicycle, from a very poorly-chosen place to cross behind a parked van. The cyclist has no chance to see them or stop, even at the sensible speed (or indeed any speed) they are driving at.

This occurrence has happened countless times.

Who has created the danger? Who is responsible?

Bristol Dave said...

Paul:

Exactly. I'm interested to see Chris's response to your scenario.

Chris Hutt said...

That's easy. The cyclist is mostly responsible because he is mostly creating the danger.

If both parties were travelling at walking pace the consequences of any collision would be trivial and both would apologise and go their seperate ways.

But as the cyclist travels faster so his kinetic energy and potential to cause damage increases to in proportion to the square of the velocity to become many times that of the pedestrian.

For example an 80 kg pedestrian walking at 2 metres per second (4 mph) has 160 Joules of kinetic energy whereas a 100 kg cyclist and bike travelling at just 5 mps has 1,250 Joules, about 8 times as much kinetic energy.

If the cyclist was doing around 10 mps that's 5,000 Joules so beginning to be quite dangerous, though still only a tenth of a 1 tonne car at the same speed.

Paul said...

Says it all really. Same scenario, different forms of transport and 2 different responses.

Motorist – Very much to blame. No questions asked. Motorist is creating the danger.

Cyclist – Mostly to blame. Only creating some of the danger, not all.

Why only mostly? Where is the remaining danger coming from?

Bristol Dave said...

Absolutely hilarious.

So in a collision involving a vehicle and a pedestrian/bike, no matter what the circumstances, what happened, who did what, who's fault morally or legally it was, the vehicle is solely to blame and has to take all the responsibility, because it had more kinetic energy.

Nice objective viewpoint you've got there, Chris.

Thank God you're not in charge of our legal system.

Bristol Dave said...

Why only mostly? Where is the remaining danger coming from?

Well, the pedestrian, of course.

Except, in Chris's eyes, if it's a collision involving a vehicle, in which case they're completely blameless. He's nice and balanced like that, you see.

Paul said...

I see. So we can basically attribute all blame by the following statement.

If
Kinetic Energy of Vehicle A >
Kinetic Energy of Vehicle B = Vehicle A to blame

Kinetic Energy of Vehicle B > Kinetic Energy of Vehicle A = Vehicle B to blame

Else If

Vehicle is a Bicycle

Then

Reduce Blame by 50-100%

Chris Hutt said...

I think Paul's suggestion is too simplistic and inconsistent. Clearly it would be wrong to treat a cyclist more favourably purely for being a cyclist as he suggests.

Comparison of kinetic energy allows us to assign blame in proportion to kinetic energy, so vehicle A with a KE of 50 kJ colliding with vehicle B with a KE of 100 kJ could be held to be one third responsible for the consequences of the collision.

Applying that logic to my earlier examples, in the case of the 1 tonne, 20 mph car (50 kJ) and the 80 kg, 4 mph pedestrian (0.16 kJ) the car would be 312.5 times as responsible, or 99.7% which is near enough all the responsibility as I said.

In the cyclist v pedestrian example we have 1.25 kJ v 0.16 kJ so the cyclist is about 89% responsible, which is not quite all the responsibility so I said 'most'.

So you see the system has been applied consistently and gives results that broadly put the responsibility where it should be.

Chris Hutt said...

Dave "How you can even think of speaking with any kind of authority on the subject...?"

Have I ever claimed any kind of 'authority'? I say what I think, that's all, same as you do on your blog. I'm not looking for 'respect' any more than you are. I just like to test out new ideas and views.

Bristol Dave said...

Have I ever claimed any kind of 'authority'?

Allow me to quote

I bear some responsibility for changes in transport thinking in Bristol that emerged in the 1980s and 90s

I just like to test out new ideas and views.

Like the idea that if a car is driving sensibly and legally, and an irresponsible cyclist weaves straight in front of its path without any consideration for anybody and causes a collision, the car is entirely at fault because it has a higher kinetic energy? Don't give up the day job.

Chris Hutt said...

Dave - "Like the idea that if a car is driving sensibly and legally, and an irresponsible cyclist weaves straight in front of its path without any consideration for anybody and causes a collision...."

Just look at the prejudicial language you are using here. The car 'drives sensibly' while the cyclist 'weaves', the 'path' belongs to the motorist, not the cyclist or pedestrian, and it is always the non-motorist who 'causes the collision' in your world.

Paul said...

Chris,

I think you are missing a trick then…

While the rest of the world (police, insurance companies, local councils etc…) have been forging ahead with, what seems to now be wasted research involving accidents on roads with variables such as road conditions (lighting, view obstructions, recognisability, signs, signals, surface character and dimensions), vehicle conditions (equipment condition, view obstructions, distractions, instruments, signalling devices, control sensation, comfort, automatic controls and devices, weight, performance, dimensions, stability and speed) and human conditions (sensory capabilities, knowledge, judgment, attitude, alertness, health, driving/walking skill, age, customs, habits, weight, strength and freedom of movement) you seem to have solved every accident via your simple equations ignoring the majority of these factors.

I think accident investigators will be slightly upset that you have put them out a job though when you can provide the % of responsibility to within 0.1% without even needing to visit the scene of the accident.

Bristol Dave said...

Just look at the prejudicial language you are using here. The car 'drives sensibly' while the cyclist 'weaves', the 'path' belongs to the motorist, not the cyclist or pedestrian, and it is always the non-motorist who 'causes the collision' in your world.

No, it is the non-motorist who causes the collision in the particular example I was describing.

I was using the "prejudicial language" to clarify that point.

I would also struggle to find a post in the entire history of your blog that doesn't use prejudicial language when referring to motorists.

Chris Hutt said...

Yes, I often use prejudicial language like virtually everyone else with views on these matters. But you seemed to think your language wasn't prejudicial so I was pointing out that it was.

Just consider this rewrite of your original example.

"A pedestrian is walking across the road at a sensible speed. A car runs out RIGHT into the path of the pedestrian, from a very poorly-chosen place to cross behind a parked van. The pedestrian has no chance to see them or stop, even at the sensible speed (or indeed any speed) they are walking at."

That description of the same scenario has at least as much legitimacy as your description but is written from a different perspective, a perspective that you and most motorists refuse to see.

Chris Hutt said...

Paul, you too are using prejudicial language to support your point of view.

For example you still refer to 'accidents' when even the police now accept the appropriate terminology is 'incidents' or 'collisions'. The word 'accident' implies that there is no blame but there is always some blame and often it is such that the term 'accident' cannot reasonably be used.

You do not seem to appreciate that what I am suggesting here is a basis for allocating responsibilty for the consequences of a collision rather than for the collision per se.

It may be that a pedestrian and motorist are equally responsible for a particular collision but the responsibilty for the consequences (mainly injuries) will lie almost entirely with the motorist due to the overwhelming force (kinetic energy) that they bring to bear.

You describe a 'road safety industry' whose main objective has been to shift responsibility from motorists and onto vulnerable road users at the behest of corporate interests. They have largely failed to resolve the problem of the danger imposed on vulnerable road users other than by severely inhibiting their freedom of movement.

Paul said...

Paul, you too are using prejudicial language to support your point of view.
- I have never claimed that I am not. I am just trying to put a non-cyclist view across.

For example you still refer to 'accidents' when even the police now accept the appropriate terminology is 'incidents' or 'collisions'. The word 'accident' implies that there is no blame but there is always some blame and often it is such that the term 'accident' cannot reasonably be used.
- The reason I use accident is that I don’t know who is to blame and neither does anyone, until all the factors I originally mentioned are investigated and taken into account, only then can the blame be attributed to a party. I do not believe that blame can be attributed to kinetic energy alone. Kinetic energy greatly affects the result of the accident, but is not the sole cause as you would seem to argue.


You do not seem to appreciate that what I am suggesting here is a basis for allocating responsibilty for the consequences of a collision rather than for the collision per se.
- That does not surprise me at all. Of course you would suggest this as the cyclist has the lowest amount of kinetic energy of any road user. You therefore have nothing to lose in the responsibility stakes. Here, have a free ‘get out of jail’ card on the responsibility front.

It may be that a pedestrian and motorist are equally responsible for a particular collision but the responsibilty for the consequences (mainly injuries) will lie almost entirely with the motorist due to the overwhelming force (kinetic energy) that they bring to bear.
- Correct. Responsibility and consequences are two separate things. Responsibility is right up to the accident, consequences after that point. Yes pedestrians, have more consequences of being involved in an accident, that is obvious, but that shouldn’t reduce their responsibility of being involved in an accident.


You describe a 'road safety industry' whose main objective has been to shift responsibility from motorists and onto vulnerable road users at the behest of corporate interests. They have largely failed to resolve the problem of the danger imposed on vulnerable road users other than by severely inhibiting their freedom of movement.
- And there is an example of your prejudice.

Chris Hutt said...

Paul, we now use the words 'incident' or 'collision' for the reasons you state, namely it is not known initially if the event was an 'accident' or not. To use the word 'accident' presumes the outcome of any investigation.

As for "the cyclist has the lowest amount of kinetic energy of any road user", not so. The pedestrian will always be the lowest since kinetic energy is a function of the square of velocity. I explained that in relation to the ped/cyclist collision scenario you described.

It is the pedestrian who gets the 'get out of jail free card' and quite right too.

Paul said...

Hi Chris,

Maybe I’m a little behind on my terminology. People still use ‘I was involved in an accident today’ or ‘I had an accident today’ so that is why I probably still use it.

I class motorists and cyclists as road users since that is where they spend the majority of their time. I know pedestrians have to cross the road etc… but I don’t think that qualifies as them as road users, maybe ‘pavement users’? Again, could be behind on my terminology.

Chris Hutt said...

Ah terminology is a minefield.

The term 'road' is generally used to mean the 'carriageway' as opposed to the 'footway' (pavement), both of which are parts of the 'highway'. But pedestrians have a fundamental right to freely use highways including the carriageway.

The right of pedestrians to use the carriageway is no less than any others' right and arguably greater. Even traffic light signals can only advise pedestrians not to cross on the 'red man' and cannot legally require such a thing.

I think motorway regulations are the only case where the right of passage on foot on a highway is prohibited.

Bristol Dave said...

To use the word 'accident' presumes the outcome of any investigation.

But surely the use of the word "accident" is mainly to avoid presumption of intent? Nobody wants to have a collision, and when they have one, in 99% of cases it wasn't intentional, so doesn't that therefore mean it was accidental?

Chris Hutt said...

On the contrary, the word 'accident' presumes no intent whereas 'incident' leaves the question open.

And on what evidence do you say 99% of collisions aren't intentional? My experience is that there is a degree of intent in the majority.

Driving (or cycling) too fast for example constitutes intent in that it is a deliberate act of recklessness which can be expected to result in collisions and casualties.

Bristol Dave said...

And on what evidence do you say 99% of collisions aren't intentional?

On the basic assumption that nobody wants to have an collision, with the exception of a few extraordinary cases such as insurance fraud or wilfully using a vehicle/cycle to cause someone actual harm, in which case there should be criminal proceedings.

An intent to drive fast does NOT equal an intent to have a collision, no matter how likely a consequence it is (and if you stick to the facts such as TRL studies and reports rather than the propaganda, it's actually a small minority (under 10%) of accidents/collisions that are caused by excess speed - not that likely anyway).

If someone drinks a large amount of alcohol in a deliberate act of recklessness in order to get drunk, it is likely that they will vomit, but it's fairly safe to say that was never their intent.

Anonymous said...

If you know so much about all of this, why are you a plumber? Jacko Anon

Chris Hutt said...

Jacko, I ask myself the same question every day.

paddy said...

Hi Mr Dave. The causes that led to the consequences were deliberate.