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Two wheels good, four wheels bad/Plan to make drivers liable(20 posts)

Two wheels good, four wheels bad/Plan to make drivers liableMJ
Aug 5, 2002 2:29 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/transport/Story/0,2763,769369,00.html

Two wheels good, four wheels bad

Plan to make drivers liable in all accidents with bicycles

Andrew Osborn in Brussels
Monday August 5, 2002
The Guardian

Animosity between those who like two wheels and those who prefer four becomes more acute with every new accident, freshly laid road and puff of carbon monoxide, but it is just about to get worse, much worse.
The apparent disregard of so-called "guerrilla cyclists" for traffic signals and the highway code has long irritated Britain's drivers and a controversial proposal on motor insurance from the European commission is about to spark a new bout of collective road rage.

To the fury of motoring organisations, Brussels wants to tip the balance in favour of the cyclist so that motorists become automatically liable for damages in every accident involving a car and a bicycle regardless of who is to blame.

The proposal would turn UK law on its head: in Britain a driver involved in an accident with a bicycle is presumed innocent and a cyclist must prove negligence in order to win compensation.

A furious RAC says the proposal is nonsensical and claims that it could add £50 a year to every single driver's insurance premium in the country (an average 10% increase). The motor insurance industry has launched a concerted lobbying campaign to defeat the new law.

The government has vowed to fight the idea and will do its best to persuade its European partners to reject the proposal out of hand. "We have to look at where to apportion blame," a government spokesman said. "You have to remember that people can be done for cycling dangerously so an accident is not always a driver's fault.

"We have real concerns about the commission's current draft and we'll have to have a serious look at what is being said. We're very good negotiators in Europe and we'll say what we feel."

The Orwellian sounding fifth motor insurance directive was floated in June but it is only now that the car lobby and others have digested its implications. It will have to be approved by the European parliament and all 15 member state governments before it becomes law although not by unanimity, which means that British opposition could be ignored and the law applied in the UK regardless.

The commission says that the rationale is to harmonise motor insurance across the EU and to provide better protection for pedestrians and cyclists.

It argues that it is only responding to "a growing demand from pedestrians and cyclists - the weakest parties in traffic accidents - to be protected by the insurance coverage of the vehicle involved".

It says: "Motor vehicles cause most accidents. Whoever is responsible, pedestrians and cyclists usually suffer more. In some member states the cyclist is covered by the insurance of the vehicle involved in the accident irrespective of whether the driver is at fault."

It is referring to France, Belgium, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany where the motorist is almost always liable for damages or compensation regardless of who caused the accident. Brussels wants the rest of the EU to adopt that system within two to three years.

However, the plan will have to overcome strong opposition.

"Drivers are going to have to pay higher premiums to compensate cyclists for their own mistakes," said Kevin Delaney of the RAC. "Many cyclists behave as if there were no legal constraints upon them, ignoring traffic lights, signs, one-way streets and pedestrian crossings, travelling as fast as possible with no lights or bell: they are bicycle guerrillas."

However, cycling and road safety groups have given a warm welcome to the proposed changes, arguing that they will redress the balance in favour of more vulnerable road users. But they doubt whether in practice motorists would be automatically liable for compensation.

"This new law will mean t
re: Two wheels good, four wheels bad/Plan to make drivers liableweiwentg
Aug 5, 2002 3:49 AM
while I emphatically disagree with Kevin Delaney's characterization of bicyclists, and while I find his attitude repugnant, I must admit that he has half a point. drivers will have to pay higher premiums for our mistakes, on the occasions that they are made. collective punishment? I would be reluctant to endorse this policy.
I understand it differentlyMJ
Aug 5, 2002 4:13 AM
I understand it only reverses the burden of proof - currently cyclists have to prove drivers are negligent - this bill means that drivers will have to prove that cyclists were negligent to avoid a claim

the car position is being 'spun' by a self-interested lobbying - portraying guerilla cyclists as the norm - which even if all were - cyclists don't cause deaths and injury (except in rare circumstances) when breaking the rules whereas not looking in your rear view mirror as a driver (i.e. a minor infraction) can result in serious consequences for vulnerable road users
Have twice been hit by cars while riding, and both times thePaul
Aug 5, 2002 5:25 AM
insurance company wanted to ante up as quickly as possible for obvious reasons. If they believe that the car driver is remotely responsible, they don't want a court case. I believe that this is an unwritten law fthat insurance companies follow based on my experience, and others that I have spoken with concerning their accidents.
well, THAT makes senseweiwentg
Aug 5, 2002 5:34 AM
> I understand it only reverses the burden of proof - currently cyclists have to prove drivers are negligent - this bill means that drivers will have to prove that cyclists were negligent to avoid a claim

that, I think, is quite fair.
stupidDougSloan
Aug 5, 2002 6:54 AM
No reason to change the existing system here. Cyclists are frequently the cause of accidents. Face it, we screw up, too.

Why not carry this thought further? Make the driver of every vehicle that is larger than the other presumeably liable for an accident? Someone could make a fortune running stop signs in a Mini Cooper!

Doug
stupidMJ
Aug 5, 2002 7:10 AM
from where I sit it's quite simple - reversing the default burden of proof from cyclists/pedestrians to drivers is an idea that will force car drivers to be more cautious

reverse the question - why is it that a cyclist/pedestrian should bear the responsibility of proving the driver was negligent? - why should a driver not bear the responsibility of proving a cyclist/pedestrian was negligent? illbehaved cyclists (or pedestrians) running red lights should not blind anyone from a logical conclusion - ultimately the one with the macine which requires a license and normally causes death and injury when operated negligently should be the one made to prove that they were not the cause of an accident - if the cyclist was negligent then that should come out and result in no-claim - it's preposterous to assert that cyclists will be running red lights, cycling in the dark with no clothes and winning claims against drivers!! those scenarios to me sound like the very definition of negligence

as I mentioned above - while cyclists do screw up - the results are rarely death and injury to other road users whereas that is not the case with drivers

re smaler cars vs big cars anything taken too far becomes ridiculous - but I'd stand by an SUV insurance surcharge in light of their destructive capability - Muncher (now Eager Beagle) and I almost got mowed down by a yuppie wife in a Range Rover on Saturday in his MG convertible - it would have gone right over us...

ultimately this is a theoretical question/position - it's a statement of intent - it forces drivers to share the road with vulnerable road users - nobody wants to be dead and (have their estate) make a 'full recovery' on an insurance policy
Just "one more law" will make everyone magically behave civillykenyee
Aug 5, 2002 7:32 AM
That's the problem I have w/ proposals like this. I'm not sure about the UK, but in the US, if you hit and kill a cyclist or pedestrian, you can be almost certain you'll be charged w/ "negligent homicide" by the police (that's criminal court). After that, you no doubt will be sued in a civil court by the family (remember OJ Simpson?). Same case, two courts, two lawyers fees, your life ruined financially and w/ all the rumors, etc. If that doesn't scare today's drivers enough to keep them from acting stupid, what do you think a little extra insurance fee will do to them???

The other problem with proposals like this is that I think insurance companies want just another excuse to crank up rates on drivers (the "most stolen" list is a good example of this if you ever notice that "most popular" = "most stolen")...it's similiar to how cities will ticket drivers but not pedestrians for jaywalking, cyclists for blowing red lights, etc.

Responsibility has to be even and fair or one side *will* take advantage of the other. Driver and cyclist/pedestrian should both have the burden of proof of proving innocence just as what happens when two cars are in an accident.
Just "one more law" will make everyone magically behave civillyMJ
Aug 5, 2002 8:07 AM
not worried about insurance rates - driving here is a choice not a requirement - if it costs too much - use public transport

both proving innocence is a step towards the middle ground - that's not what currently exists...

I don't think a law will bring about a huge change - instead I propose this:

all vehicles have their seatbelts removed and have a large, sharp spike inserted into the steering wheel
So what's the principle here?DougSloan
Aug 5, 2002 7:43 AM
"Act so that the maxim of your action could become, by your will, a universal law of nature." Kant

What is the principal involved that could be universally applied -- that the more vulnerable always benefit from the opponent's burden of proof? You think we have a litigious society now, just go open that flood gate.

Due process generally required that one who is making a claim bear the burden of proof. The one asking for something must prove entitlement to it. I see no good reason to change that.

Say we implement this change, and cyclists become less careful as a result. Then what? Switch the burden around again?

Stronger criminal penalties might be a better solution. The government would still bear the burden of proof, however (beyond a reasonable doubt).

Doug
Yes. The problem with the article, at least on . .morrison
Aug 5, 2002 7:58 AM
this side of the drink, is that it addresses an aspect absent from our legal system; the presumption of fault in a tort claim.

You alluded to as much in your third paragraph; in the States, whomever makes the claim must prove the case. The only 'platform' presumption in our legal system is the presumption of innocence that attaches in CRIMINAL matters.

Stronger criminal penalties? Plaintiffs lawyers frequently advocate the same b/c (I suspect) they like the idea of the government doing their work for them, and then stepping in on a subsequent civil claim to clean up. (What the restitution award does not accomplish, collateral estoppel will). Yet I remain opposed. Liberty is a precious commodity, and one that should not be jeopardized by the color of a traffic light.
So what's the principle here?MJ
Aug 5, 2002 8:02 AM
the maxim written should cover the operation of potential weapons on streets where vulnerable road users exist - seems fine to me - universal application would not be the more vulnerable - but rather those most likely to be killed

not worried about litigation floodgates - don't think that's particularly relevant

similar burdens of proof exist in this country for trespass etc. - the owner of a dangerous building must secure it in a way so that stupid people can't climb in and kill themselves... don't know how it is in the US - you may be surprised to find out that, here at least, there are not hordes of litigious minded opportunists breaking into mines and industrial facilities looking to lose a limb and score a claim

who wants to be right and dead? - no one

the fact remains that when a car makes a mistake - a vulnerable road user can pay a significant price - if a vulnerable road user makes a mistake the vulnerable road user usually still pays the (usually significant) price

cars kill - bikes almost never kill - requiring drivers to be more diligent around cyclists can only result in less cycling fatalities/injuries
well . . .morrison
Aug 5, 2002 8:17 AM
bikes do kill. especially in combination with cars. face it, it's a dangerous lifestyle. every time i get on the bike i know that i am running a serious risk. i accept that risk because i know that, for the most part, i can control it.

ride safe and follow the rules. then, if you get hit, you've got pretty good odds it was the other guy's fault regardless. if you live, hire lawyer, sue driver. make sure lawyer good. call state bar for disciplinary history. seek references.
So following that logickenyee
Aug 5, 2002 9:17 AM
Bike hits pedestrian who was jaywalking, causing pedestrian to fly 20 feet and die from hitting head against sidewalk.

Bike hits 2yr old wandering all over M.U.T. Child is killed (broken neck) by 200lb mass moving 15mph.

Therefore, in all pedestrian/cyclist accidents, the cyclist should *always* be at fault and such a great law should be passed in the U.K. Of course, the cyclist should be thrown in jail for assault w/ a dangerous weapon because cyclists don't have any insurance to pay off anyone.

Just want to make sure I understand :-)
So following that logicMJ
Aug 5, 2002 9:25 AM
I've gotta go home now - but I'm gonna stop on my way home and practice doing some jumps on my mtb in a disused warehouse on the way - I'll just hop the fence and get in no problem - anyways - if any of the aerials go wrong I'm covered for injuries cause they have liability!!

in both of your examples - it appears to be very easy to prove that it is in fact the dead person (or their parent) who was negligent and therefore at fault - thus avoiding any claim against the cyclist who was operating his bike in a respomsible maner at an aprproiate speed and with due care an attention... :-)
You just argued against that storykenyee
Aug 5, 2002 12:19 PM
In your last paragraph, you argued against your position. Switching places, you just said cyclists can be obviously at fault in accidents where a car is involved...the ones that run red lights, go the wrong way, blow through stop signs, etc.

If those two cyclist/pedestrian accidents had happened and the law applied similiarly, the cyclist would be assumed at fault because the pedestrian is more "vulnerable". The cyclist would have to prove his/her own innocence for running over a kid who might have been meandering on the MUT.

And, again, even if they cyclist weren't automatically faulted, our legal system (and I'd bet the UK one) would entice the parents to sue the cyclist for negligent homicide if the police didn't charge the cyclist for it. The cyclist wouldn't survive the media hanging...there'd be stories on how the kid had bicycle tracks on his back, etc. by the media who doesn't understand how a little dog can trip a cyclist who's blasting along a bike path at 15mph while people are walking at under 5mph.
I think we're mixed up hereMJ
Aug 6, 2002 12:26 AM
the proposed law (as I understand it) requires that drivers prove the cyclist was negligent and that they were not negligent in order to avoid a claim

so in your example the same would apply to a cyclist who had injured a (gasp) child - the cyclist would have to prove the pedestrian was negligent and that they were not negligent in order to avoid a claim

it's really very simple - currently the injured (vulnerable) party must prove the driver was negligent...

nobody wants to sue for negligent homicide (how silly is that point, come on) - the law is intended to raise the issue and actually prevent accidents - you know be proactive - I realise that the only way in which American society can ever accept change is through the courts - but there are other ways - checks and balances my ass
So what's the principle here?weiwentg
Aug 5, 2002 7:02 PM
> the more vulnerable always benefit from the opponent's burden of proof?

Doug, consider cases of sexual abuse. on one hand we have EXTREMIST Muslim societies (emphasis on extremist) who require 4 adult male Muslim witnesses for the victim to prove she was raped (this law might very well come to one state in Malaysia, but I sincerely hope not). I don't think it's bad that the more vulnerable should generally not have to bear the burden of proof.
some of you may have missed this linerufus
Aug 5, 2002 8:15 AM
i so that motorists become automatically liable for damages in every accident involving a car and a bicycle regardless of who is to blame.

that just goes a bit too far for me. sure, in cases of car/bike accidents, the cyclist usually comes out the worst. but its not fair to automatically blame the motorist in every instance. according to this law, if a cyclists runs a red light and is struck by a car, it's the driver's fault.
further down it's explained differentlyMJ
Aug 5, 2002 8:55 AM
you may have to go to the original source/URL as I don't know if the whole artcile got posted...

your quote is from the 'car lobby'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/transport/Story/0,2763,769369,00.html

"However, cycling and road safety groups have given a warm welcome to the proposed changes, arguing that they will redress the balance in favour of more vulnerable road users. But they doubt whether in practice motorists would be automatically liable for compensation.

"This new law will mean that the driver will have to prove that he/she was not at fault whereas at the moment the onus is on the victim to prove negligence. That is the big difference," said Brigitte Chaudhry, national secretary of traffic accident charity Roadpeace."