Despite countless advertising campaigns urging cyclists and drivers to share the road harmoniously, the war between both parties seems to be greater than ever. In fact, thousands of collisions involving cars and bikes occur each year.
Although cyclists and drivers can both behave irresponsibly on the road, research suggests more than two thirds of all crashes in the capital are the fault of the motorist.
And with approximately 3,000 cyclists being killed or injured on Britain’s roads each year, some have argued that more needs to be done to make the roads safer and prosecute those who are driving dangerously.
Not only is the government introducing measures to make the roads more cyclist-friendly, many cyclists are taking matters into their own hands by adding cameras to their helmets. By doing so, not only are they helping to catch drivers behaving recklessly on film, they’re equipping themselves with an extra line of defence in the event of an accident.
Let’s take a look at how helmet cam footage being used in the war between cyclists and drivers.
In June 2010, a van driver was charged with driving without due consideration after footage from a cyclist’s helmet was used to secure a conviction. It’s believed the case may have been the first instance of cyclist’s head cam footage being used by the prosecution.
Since then, helmet cam footage has been used numerous times to provide police officers and law enforcement with video evidence of who was at fault.
One cyclist in Essex, David Sherry recorded more than 200 incidents in the space of two years and claims that his helmet cam has led to approximately 60 convictions and police cautions.
Supporting insurance claims
In the event of a collision between a cyclist and a driver, the driver’s insurance company would be less likely to fight claims from the cyclist if headcam footage proved their client was at fault.
When 27-year-old Jack Thoburn was knocked off his bike by a car in 2014, he initially had trouble claiming for a replacement bike from the driver’s insurance company. It was only when he handed over headcam footage from the accident that insurers took action.
Unfortunately, footage alone cannot guarantee that a claim will be accepted. The video evidence needs to be good quality and clearly show who was at fault.
Providing data to researchers
Helmet cam footage has also provided researchers with extensive data that can be used to analyse both cyclist and driver behaviour on the roads. In turn, these studies can help to make the roads safer and provide everyone from government employees to car manufacturers with valuable data.
In a small-scale 2011 study, researchers analysed 127 hours’ worth of footage from 13 riders to see what happens in the seconds before a cycling collision occurs. The footage captured cyclists’ point-of-view over the course of the four week experiment. Of all the crashes and near misses recorded, researchers deemed that in 87% of cases captured, the driver was responsible for the action that led to the event. This behaviour involved ineffective indicating, failing to give the cyclist enough space, cutting them off and turning in front of them.
In some cases, the drivers were more focused on other vehicles rather than cyclists, often to an extent where taking cyclists out of the equation would mean that the drivers’ behaviour would have been considered safe.
Influencing driver behaviour
As helmet cams become increasingly commonplace and accident footage continues to be shared online, this could influence driver behaviour. Not only could sharing footage online raise awareness of the dangers faced by cyclists, it could also encourage drivers to take more care in case they’re being recorded. The last thing anyone wants is for footage of them to be leaked online.
As crucial as it is for drivers to do their part to make roads safer for cyclists, those on two wheels rather than four need to be careful not to retaliate in the event of an accident. There have been instances where cyclists have voided video evidence by confronting drivers and acting in an aggressive way. There’s even a risk that this footage could work against them.
From helping to convict dangerous drivers to supporting insurance claims, headcam footage can certainly help to improve road safety. However, cyclists shouldn’t rely solely on their own video evidence. In most circumstances, photos from the scene, witness statements and police reports will still be required.