21 Jun 2023

Why it’s time to wise up and wear a head cam

Britain’s leading police officer for preventing road deaths believes that cyclists should wear head cameras to deter dangerous motorists because the evidence this would provide would enable the police to successfully prosecute lawbreakers threatening their safety.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox, formerly the most senior road safety officer with the Metropolitan Police and now the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for fatal collision investigation reporting, said it would make cyclists what he called “part of the road danger solution” because police could not solve the problem on their own.

He made the announcement when he tried to raise awareness of the issue as he cycled 30 miles around central London with the campaigning BBC broadcaster, Jeremy Vine, who is well-known for recording near misses he has with motor vehicles while cycling to work in the capital[1].

His statement provides welcome support for all of us at Coulthursts as we are the leading brain injury lawyers specialising in winning compensation for people who have life changing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) issues. We have always made it clear that although not necessary for pursuing a claim for damages, the existence of head cam footage can greatly enhance the likelihood of a successful outcome.

It also comes at a time when the Government is actively pursuing a policy of encouraging more people to travel by cycle and on foot to enhance their health and well-being and as part of the fight against pollution and global warming.

It is aiming to make cycling and walking the preferred mode of transport for all journeys under five miles by 2040. At the same time, its framework, Active Travel England, envisages that half of all journeys in towns and cities will be walked or cycled by 2030.

The Government’s aspirations in this direction have been helped by the cycling converts who turned to self-power transport during the Covid lockdown as a legal way of escaping from the constraints of their homes and discovered that they rather liked the freedom of peddling down the open road.

The post-pandemic popularity of cycling is quite marked. In England, there were almost 6.5 million regular cyclists by 2021 – a rise of more than 28 per cent compared with five years previously.

Other parts of the United Kingdom also recorded increases, though of a rather more modest level. During roughly the same period, the percentage of people from all age groups in Scotland increased from 10.3 to 12.8 and in Northern Ireland from 12 per cent to 18 per cent. Respondents to a smaller sample in Wales revealed that 4 per cent of them cycled at least once a week for genuine travel purposes.

Government figures from 2014-16 showed that 9.5 per cent of adults each claimed to cycle at least 53 miles a year. By 2019-20, the average yearly distance travelled by each cyclist had increased to 88 miles per year.

In addition, the Government’s National Travel Survey showed that 47 per cent of people in England had access to a bike in 2020 and many of the new converts have remained as committed cyclists. This is supported by the fact that the UK spent £514 million on cycles during 2022 compared with only £390 million in 2018.

However, there is a downside. As cycling has increased in popularity, so have the accidents involving cyclists and they make bleak reading. Latest statistics show that more than 100 cyclists are killed and more than 4,000 are seriously injured every year, 56 per cent of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads and the biggest single cause of cyclist casualties of all sorts is when they are wearing dark clothing and cannot be seen properly[2].

It is therefore a sobering thought that, according to The Brain Charity, 45% of British cyclists admitted to riding without a helmet even though wearing one could reduce the risk of brain injury. The body has now teamed up with a cycle gear manufacturer to draw attention to the danger[3].

Lightweight cameras are available for as little as £26 and it is also advisable to have  rear facing and forward facing cameras mounted on the cycle to catch shots which do not occur in an area where the cyclist does not happen to be looking at the time[4].

The matter has never been more important than it is now as the Government has been quick to latch onto new cycling converts as an important part of its drive towards a greener travel landscape.

Against such a background, there has never been a better time for cyclists wearing helmets and head cams to be as natural and common as motorists and their passengers wearing seatbelts.

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[1] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/cyclists-wear-headcam-deter-dangerous-drivers-police-jeremy-vine-b1002004.html

[2] www.provizsports.com/en-gb/blog/uk-cycling-statistics/

[3] https://www.thebraincharity.org.uk/endura-bike-helmets-project-heid/

[4] www.cyclingweekly.com/group-tests/bike-helmet-cameras-327336#Cycling%20Safety%20Camera