Intimidatory driving to become breach of traffic law?

31 May 2019 | Stuart Kightley
car driver

Table of Contents

A new driving offence of ‘intimidatory driving’ is being considered by the government to crack down on close passes by drivers. ‘Car dooring’ and punishment for stopping in cycle stop boxes at traffic lights could also result in points and a fine.

New regulations

The Department for Transport is publishing a ‘call for evidence’ on making cycling safer on UK roads. This call for evidence will also look at penalising cyclists for dangerous cycling as we reported last week.

Under the proposed driving regulations, car, van and lorry drivers could face points and a fine for passing cyclists too closely. According to, “Passing distances have already been introduced in many countries, with gaps of at least one metre on local roads, rising to one and a half metres on faster routes. The Highway Code instructs motorists to give cyclists “plenty of room”, as they would when passing another vehicle, but no minimum distance has been set.”

In addition, vehicle owners who open their door into the road without looking and knocking a cyclist off their bike could be fined too. ‘Car dooring’ has been shown to be a major factor in the injury statistics. Drivers who stop their vehicles in ‘cycle stop boxes’ at traffic lights will also be punished.

According to the same article, Jesse Norman, the transport minister with responsibility for cycling, said: “We need to become a nation of cyclists and this government wants to make cycling the natural choice of transport for people of all ages and backgrounds.”

Slap on the wrists

Currently there isn’t much the police can do in many instances short of pulling the driver over and making them feel extremely uncomfortable! The West Midlands Police are proud of the fact that they were the first police force in the UK to crack down on close passes. However their website says, “Drivers will be offered a road-side educational input on safe overtaking,” though repeat offenders and those going far too closely may well be taken to court. The problem is that a judge will have to decide on how close is too close.

One in four rides has a very scary incident

Research published in 2017 that looked at the regularity of close passes on UK roads suggested, “in the UK, near misses seem to be ‘everyday’ occurrences, with the vast majority of our sample experiencing at least one on their diary day. One in four experienced an incident that they rated as being ‘very scary’.” Nearly every day a cyclist will have a close pass, while one day in four you will have a scarily close encounter.

The research looked at 1600 day long cycling diaries from cyclists around the UK. That is a large enough number that it is considered a standard figure that all cycling campaigns refer to in their literature. Celebrities such as Jeremy Vine have set up YouTube channels to show just how hairy riding can be with aggressive or thoughtless car, lorry and van drivers routinely getting too close.

Isn’t high time the law knew how close is too close? In doing so, drivers will have to be more mindful. Those with helmet-cams will also be able to get prosecutions. From a cycling safety point of view, it’s a step in the right direction!

Share this article


Related InsightsVIEW ALL

  1. camden lock

    Guide to Bicycle Accident Settlement Amounts

    Understanding Bicycle Accident Compensation More people are taking to their bikes in the UK, both as a form of exercise...

    Read more
  2. road cyclists

    Do you have to wear a bike helmet?

    Should bike helmets be mandatory in the UK? Recently, Dan Walker was involved in a nasty collision with a motorist...

    Read more
  3. highway code bike lights

    Top 10 Major Highway Code Changes for Cyclists

    New Highway Code rules for cyclists At the end of January 2022, the Highway Code was updated to make British roads...

    Read more
  4. cyclist

    Knocked off your bike? What to do next

    Now more than ever before, people are embracing the pleasures and benefits of cycling in and around London. Unsurprisingly, the...

    Read more
  5. e-scooter

    The law around E-bikes and E-scooters explained

    Why are electric bikes legal but not scooters? E-bikes and e-scooters are the new rides on the block. To many,...

    Read more
  6. london eye

    Bike Boxes – what are the rules?

    Cycle boxes at traffic lights I read a post recently on a London cycling forum in relation to some confusion...

    Read more
  7. highway code road signs

    Highway Code changes just the start in protecting...

    The 2020 changes to the Highway Code do not go far enough to change driver behaviour and protect cyclists and pedestrians,...

    Read more
  8. bike rider at night

    Can Cycle Helmet Camera Footage be used as...

    Introduction to Bike Cams for Cyclists Have you ever been cut up by a van turning left? Or been riding...

    Read more
  9. cycling across a bridge in London

    Boom time for bikes – London Mayor’s new...

    Transforming London’s Streets for Post-Lockdown Commute Yesterday Sadiq Khan unveiled his ‘London Streetspace’ programme designed to transform London’s...

    Read more
  10. potholes in the road

    Cycling accidents involving potholes

    If a cyclist is injured as a result of a pothole or defect on the road they were travelling on...

    Read more
  11. santander cycles in london

    Do I need insurance for cycling?

    No legal requirement for cyclists to hold insurance There is no legal requirement for cyclists to hold insurance cover in...

    Read more
  12. cycling across a bridge in London

    Can a ‘bike backie’ get you in trouble?

    London’s controversial mayor Boris Johnson has been caught by The Sun newspaper giving his lawyer wife Marina Wheeler a...

    Read more
  13. abogados de accidentes de bicicle

    The risks and rewards of cycling in London

    Stuart Kightley of Osbornes solicitors asks the question: is cycling in London good for your health? I acted for a...

    Read more
  14. roundabout in london

    Cyclists, Roundabouts and the Highway Code

    The Highway Code is more than just a guide to how to pass your driving test. It is intended to...

    Read more