If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The train's to blame

This was from last week's Times:

MINISTERS are considering making motorists legally responsible for accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians, even if they are not at fault. Government advisers are pushing for changes in the civil law that will make the most powerful vehicle involved in a collision automatically liable for insurance and compensation purposes.

And from the BBC today:

Three people in a car have been killed following a collision with a train at a level crossing in the Highlands.

So when can we expect to see Scotrail prosecuted? I mean, big nasty powerful train against feeble little innocent car ... Or does this reasoning only work in one direction - against the motorist?


  1. Now that is not far off the most bizarrely idiotic idea I have ever heard. It doesn't take a genius to predict an immediate and vast increase in hit-and-runs: there would be absolutely no percentage whatsoever in sticking around at the scene of any accident. In fact, the odds would favour leaving your victim to die in a ditch - that's one fewer potential witness.

    And what about us motorcyclists: under exactly identical circumstances we'd be guilty if hit by a Fiat Uno, but innocent if it was a BMW M3?

    Of all the mind-boggling stupidity of a bankrupt government filled with political pygmies, this one absolutely takes the biscuit. In what way would it possibly be fair to armour cyclists in civil righteousness and a guaranteed payout should the poor little darlings come to any harm? Ridiculously, even if they were guilty under criminal law of a traffic offense to cause the accident, the innocent driver would still be financially liable to compensate them.

    No. I do believe, in fact, I would rather beat a fallen cyclist to death with my favourite Shoei than pay out a single penny in compensation under that kind of legislation. If cyclists want to play the legal game, they can pay tax and insurance like any other road user - and worry about their own no-claims bonus if they want to ride like pillocks.

    I have slightly more sympathy for pedestrians, but not much. If they wish to avoid being run over, by and large, all they need to do is avoid wandering out into the road without looking. If they can't cope with that, well, that is what survival of the fittest is all about.

    Guilty, regardless of whether proven innocent, is a new low even for Labour. Although the unnecessary tinkering with arbitrary financial penalties for law-abiding citizens is rather their stock-in-trade.

    Actually, I thought it near-impossible for my respect for Brown's lot to diminish any further after listening to their simultaneously smug and pathetic Conference bravado. This just reassures me that I was far, far wrong to imagine we had yet plumbed the absolute depths of their constitutional vandalism.

    Let us hope, fervently, this idea never reaches fruition.

  2. I can see a lot of cyclists having 'accidentally-on-purpose' collisions with cars and pocketing a new bike and a bit of compo. After all, if the law tells you that you are automatically innocent, you will come to believe it.

    The presumption of innocence based on anything other then the facts of the case is a travesty. I have sympathy with the cyclists's cause. I used to commute by bike through Hull, and even there the car drivers could be homicidal. One nudged me through a barrier and into a trench that was part of some road works once. I ended up upside down. I caught up with him later (one of the advantages of two wheels) and advised him of the unwisdom of his actions.

    But sympathy with cyclists is not the same as ditching our ancient presumption of innocence and loading our entire legal system in their favour. I can see this being massively abused.

    As for Labour, The Sun has come out for the Tories this morning, which just about seals the deal, I think.

  3. I was once a cyclist myself, in days of calmer and emptier roads, and it wasn't always a pleasant experience being the underdog on the roads. So I can have some sympathy with their cause. Equally, at the other end of the spectrum, I've encountered London sycle couriers who really deserved to wind up under a bus.

    Lumping them all together as equal and innocent is as unfair to the good cyclists as it would be to presume, say, all car drivers should be treated exactly the same in the event of an accident. It can only result in divisiveness and antipathy amongst road users, never mind spurious claims from the automatically-innocent or avoidance of the niceties of law from the automatically-guilty parties. Just what we need, as a nation - more frustration on the roads!

    Poor old Gordo looked like he was swallowing a wasp being interviewed about the Sun today. And he stormed out of an interview with Sky News. Even Peter Mandelslime apparently lost his oily charm(lessness) over it. Guess that wasn't the response they were hoping for to the PM's "brave" (ie very careless with promising our money away) fightback speech. Nice to see him taking a well-deserved metaphorical kick in the bollocks. Getting the message yet, lads?


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