I Love Taxi Drivers

Ok I don’t really, the majority of my worst incidences have been with taxi drivers and they seem to be invincible! From my experience the police pass any reports to the PCO and the PCO hold their hands up and say it’s up to the police to sort it out.

The public carriage office in its current state is a bit of a shambles, I have been provided a small amount of inside knowledge from someone who was involved with the PCO from a day-to-day basis on a professional level. I won’t go into detail at present, it would be a very long post but the end result is taxi drivers in London are basically untouchable and a few of them act as if they know that.

I’ve reported various incidences of varying degrees to the PCO, in every case I’ve not had a positive response, most of them result in a ‘It’s not our job to the police the roads’ and a few result in ‘we can’t view youtube videos so it’s your word against theirs’. It normally ends there, they are very understaffed and just don’t have time to look into these cases in enough detail.

I’ve tried reporting it to the Police but the MET handed over regulation and licensing of hackney carriages to TFL in 2000 and they seem to try to push the reports on TFL/PCO.

So far I’ve gotten not a single result from anything that has happened with a black cab. If you follow what I’ve published on youtube then you will know there are some real shockers.
I have had a few incidences which I’ve been told will be put on the driver’s record, but note these where not confirmed and the information did not come from someone who worked at the PCO. So I have no way to be certain.

Transport for London have provided a handy document that outlines the laws which govern hackney carriages and it states

In this Abstract, ‘The Licensing Authority’ means Transport for London (TfL) which will exercise the duties imposed by the London Cab Order 1934 as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to apply the laws in that document. In the document is the Standard Scale, which is the different fines that TFL/PCO are to apply to drivers when the break various laws, unfortunately the fines are maximum and do not have to be that exact amount.

  • Level 1 = £200
  • Level 2 = £500
  • Level 3 = £1,000
  • Level 4 = £2,500
  • Level 5 = £5,000

Lets highlight a few of the laws and what fines should be applied to the drivers that break them.

39. Various acts of misbehaviour by taxi driver (Act of 1843 s28; Act of 1831 s 56)

(1) The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1) or two months imprisonment:

(a) Wanton or furious driving.

(b)  Causing hurt or damage to any person by carelessness or wilful misbehaviour.

(c)  Drunkenness during employment.

(d)  Use of insulting or abusive language during employment.

(e)  Use of insulting gestures during employment.

(f)  Any misbehaviour during employment.

(2)  The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1 )

(a)  Injuring or endangering the life, limbs or property of any persons by intoxication, wanton or furious driving or any other wilful misconduct.

(b)  Using abusive or insulting language or rude behaviour towards any person.

(c)  Assaulting or obstructing any police officer in the execution of his duty.

(3)  This type of behaviour is also contrary to laws of general application, for example the Public Order Act 1986, carrying where appropriate heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to deal with drivers who; drive dangerously, injury someone, damage someones property, swear at someone, use insulting gestures.

In several case I have been sworn at, threatened and had people driving dangerously around me. So that would mean that several drivers should have gotten fines but instead they may have a mark on their record or they got away with it.

I guess I will have to push the PCO next time I have an incident with a taxi and get them to properly deal with the driver. At present it’s a joke and I get the feeling that taxi drivers are currently untouchable which is a problem when some of them think you shouldn’t be on the road and they are king.

A new way to tell drivers off for being on the phone!

I probably wouldn’t have uploaded this if I didn’t see the coppers as the camera doesn’t catch the driver on the phone whilst moving in the car. But the driver did admit to using his phone whilst driving for a brief moment.

Great timing by the local police officers!

RTC 16.12.10

It’s snowing, the ground is wet and traffic is backed up. I’m cycling in the bus lane and traffic up ahead starts moving but I miss a set of cars not moving at the start of a side road. The result is a car driving through a gap and into the side road, going straight across the bus lane without checking. It ended with me landing on the bonnet of the car with my arm taking my full weight which flexed the bonnet so much that my arm hit the engine block.

The police attended the scene and the driver spoke very little english. At the time the driver claimed that he didn’t see any lights on my bicycle, despite my bicycle laying in the street with the 900 lumen magicshine light and 240 lumen hope vision 1 light blaring on to the ground, lets not also forget the helmet mounted torch that I have which was shining in his eyes. The obvious problem is the driver didn’t look, so of course he couldn’t see.

An independent witness came forward (the driver of a vehicle that was waiting to leave the side road) and his statement matched my side of the story, which was also backed up by the video footage I had.

You would think that having video footage of the event would make everything plain sailing. Oh how wrong could you be. First I was told by the case manager that video evidence could not be used.

it is not something we would be able to use in court. This is due to the fact
it would not be seen as independent evidence and an argument could be
made to the effect that the footage could have been tampered with.

My response to that..

In at least 2 cases in 2010 video evidence was used in court to secure
convictions against vehicle drivers, they where recorded using similar
video equipment by cyclists.

My video evidence matches the statements that me, the vehicle driver and
a witness gave to the Police that attended the scene. I had not seen the
video before giving my statement and neither of the witness had viewed
or know about it.
This video evidence should not be dismissed due to the fact that an
argument could be made to the effect that it could have been tampered
with. As it clearly shows that the driver crossed across a bus lane
without checking to see if anything was in it. I have been advised that
if this is to be dismissed, it should be done so by a magistrate or
jury.

That was not the end of my issues. The MET’s video evidence/surveillance rooms are not capable of playing digital videos in modern h.264 formats. So they where not able to play the video that I had sent them. That in its self is quite frustrating. It ended up with one of them playing it on a personal laptop. How they then got it into a playable format to be used in court I do not know.

The case went to court nearly 7 months after the incident and I heard about the results yesterday, the driver was charged with Careless or Inconsiderate driving, got a £350 fine, 6 points on their license and ordered to pay £100 court fees. That is certainly a good result.

All that is left now is for me to claim back the cost of the damages from his insurance company.

Video Footage is Not Evidence

With more and more road users using video equipment to record their journeys in case of an accident, it is important to have a little bit of understanding of what is involved when using it to prove what happened.

A section of video footage only shows what happened during that section of time. I’ve had many people mention that a driver would only do ‘that’ if they were provoked. I don’t leave anything out of my videos on youtube and I never sensor sound. I’m open and honest about all interactions I have.

I have had various interactions with the police over the years of recording, all are fairly good. Most of my dealings have been with Roadsafe London and I can honestly say I’m happy with the results from that. It’s simple for me as I just need to fill out a short online form and include a link to the video. The police will most often send a letter to the owner of the vehicle explaining the situation and sometimes include a link to the video. Someone has been educated and that at the end of the day is my goal.

The problem any road user will face when submitting footage to the police in a more serious case is it’s still fairly uncommon for people to record and the digital formats we use are often hard to play on the police systems. This results in a lot of time wasted time in them even being able to view it.

It doesn’t end there, if the footage is of use then it has be made into something which can be used as evidence, this is going to mean at least putting the footage on to several discs to supply to each party involved in a court case and in some cases analysing the footage to see if it has been tampered with. This is quite a lengthy process and requires specific equipment which is used to process all CCTV and video evidence for a specific area (quite a large one) and only trained people can use this. So it’s a costly and lengthy task and one which will only be taken if the Police feel that the incident is worth pursuing in the case of public interest and if they believe the CPS will push for a prosecution.

I often see many people stating that they got a camera in case of an accident, this is not only the wrong message that we are sending out (it’s not dangerous to cycle in the UK, it has its ups and downs) but it also doesn’t make the process any easier and in most cases people’s expectations of what can happen to a driver after they cut you up, left hooked you etc.. is normally out of proportion.

As a side note. I said above ‘it’s not dangerous to cycle in the UK it has its ups and downs’. Obviously my videos sometimes show that there are some real idiots on the roads. You need to take into consideration how many miles per year I do and how many vehicles I have interactions with. In reality it’s probably less than 1% of vehicle drivers that I have a problem with.

FPN for Careless Driving

Yesterday it was announced that there is a plan to allow police to issue on the Fixed Penalty Fines (FPN) to road users who driver dangerously, carelessly and inconsiderately.

The fines will be issued for doing such things as tailgating, undertaking and cutting up other road users. They are certainly welcomed but will they have an effect on how people behave whilst surrounded by metal?

It seems that the fines are here to make the roads safer in the UK and to force drivers to act better on the roads. Another angle is that the fines will skip the process with the CPS, which means it’s relatively fast and the paperwork is minimal in comparison. This means it’s a pull you over, ticket you, on your way kind of job rather than lots of desk work filling out forms for all involved. Basically dealt in the same way as speeding tickets.

At present there are minimal amounts of police on the roads. As I’ve mentioned before the roads are essential un-policed and we are in this current situation because drivers are not being fined, cautioned or warned about what they are doing wrong and thus it becomes an everyday part of their driving.

As Roger Geffen, the CTC Campaigns and Policy Director said:

A careless driving fixed penalty notice is welcome, but should only be used where no injury has occurred and the driving is demonstrably careless, not dangerous. We have concerns that too often driving which is objectively dangerous is treated by police and prosecutors as merely ‘careless’.

He raises a good point that dangerous driving is often toned down. Is this just because we are used to it?
I often get comments on my videos that go something like this:

Close passes are a part of cycling, live with it

Just because it’s something we are currently ‘used’ to, doesn’t mean we should put up with it. Passing a cyclist too closely can be very dangerous and is something that is hardly ever addressed!

Unfortunately there are planned cuts in the police force, which is only going to mean even less police officers on the roads.  Looking at the laws relating to mobile phone use whilst in a vehicle which was introduced in 2003, the number of drivers which still talk away whilst driving is not getting any lower. Clearly the message is not getting through and the drivers know there is little chance they will be caught! Is this just going to go down the same road?

On a good note, a lot of clips of bad driving were shown today on the news. And as the list of cyclists that use cameras gets longer, so does the footage of bad and inconsiderate driving.

We need to continue to highlight the issues we are having on the road with dangerous and inconsiderate drivers. So far this year we have had large amounts of media coverage and things can only get bigger!

News containing videos from cyclists

Driving whilst on the phone

In 3 days of cycle commuting last week, i saw nearly 10 drivers using there mobile phone whilst being in control of a moving vehicle. This is a real pet hate of mine, and anyone i see doing so is named and shamed on youtube and more than likely the footage is passed onto the Police. What they choose to do with it is up to them. If they are in company vehicles, i will also contact that company and make them aware of their drivers using mobiles whilst driving.

Anyone that has been in control of any vehicle in a metropolis will know that concentration is very important, traffic levels are always changing and cyclist and motorcyclist can appear from ‘no where’ if you aren’t watching your mirrors. Pedestrians will cross as soon as the traffic has stopped. Why do some people think that it is acceptable to drive a motor vehicle whilst holding a mobile phone to ear?

Being in charge of a motor vehicle and holding a mobile phone is against the law in the UK and you can be finned £60 (up to £1000 if taken to court) and 3 points on your license. But with the dropping number of police on the roads the motorists know they can get away with it 99/100 and this isn’t just limited to using mobile phones. Any one that is subscribed to my youtube channel or regularly watches videos from cyclists, they will see that some people behave on the roads in an unacceptable manner.

A study run by the department of psychology at the university of Utah in USA named ‘Fatal Distraction? A Comparison of the Cell Phone Drive and the Drunk Driver’ compares the reaction time of drunk drivers and drivers on the phone whilst in control of the vehicle. In summary:

We used a high-fidelity driving simulator to compare the performance of cell-phone drivers with drivers who were legally intoxicated from ethanol. When drivers were conversing on either a hand-held or hands-free cell-phone, their reactions were sluggish and they attempted to compensate by driving slower and increasing the following distance from the vehicle immediately in front of them. By contrast, when drivers were legally intoxicated they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking. When controlling for driving difficulty and time on task, cell-phone drivers exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers.

A copy of the study can be downloaded from here.

Below are a selection of the drivers on the phone.