Police rider vs car driver. Which one is the real idiot?
On the Biker & Bike Facebook page we recently featured a Vimeo video titled, ‘Terrifying moment police biker swerves into the path of car on the motorway,’ along with the comment, ‘Pretty sure you won’t find this manoeuvre in the Roadcraft manual,’ a reference to the book written for police drivers and riders that is also available to the public.
A quick view of the video shows that, before entering from lane two to lane three, the police rider didn’t use the ‘Lifesaver’ over-the-shoulder check, although he was clearly using his mirrors. There could have been a collision.
Most of the comments in the widely shared video agreed with the sentiment behind the video’s title, that implied any potential accident would have been the fault of the police rider. Criticism can certainly be levelled at the rider for the angle and time taken to cross lanes – he went for a gap that really wasn’t there. It could be argued he, in fact, created the gap, subsequently causing the driver in lane two to brake so suddenly. The cop would be the idiot, in their view.
But when you actually watch the video, while the police rider clearly didn’t follow basic Roadcraft techniques, it is the car driver who is more likely to be the cause of any accident due to his inattention. The car driver in lane two was alert to the situation (and his own actions gave serious clues to the dashcam driver), but not the driver in lane three.
Look closely at these screengrabs from the video
When the police riders enter the motorway they have blue lights flashing (we can’t tell if they were using sirens because of the dashcam driver’s music in the background). You can clearly see this, although the riders swiftly become obscured by the car in lane two. The driver in lane three has obviously failed to notice this.
Crucially, this happens so quickly not just because of the speed of the police riders, which is not excessive, but because the car in lane two then aggressively applies the brakes – the second, much clearer indication to the dashcam driver to expect a hazard ahead.
That aggressive braking then quickly reveals the presence of the police bikes and it’s clear to see from the line the bike is taking that the police vehicle is heading into dashcam driver’s lane. Because the officer is using blue lights, dashcam driver must give way at this point.
But dashcam driver is clearly still not paying attention and does not apply his brakes until he has almost run into the police rider, exclaiming ‘whoa!’ in shock. By this point he is now some 2-3 seconds behind the rest of the traffic’s observations and reactions. Maybe the subsequent ‘Wow’s!’ are aimed at his own incompetence.
So in this case, while the police rider is certainly no genius here, it’s the car driver that is the idiot.
All the more so for putting their mistake up on the Internet for everyone else to see.
What’s that got to do with us?
Why did we flag the video in our Facebook feed and then subsequently written about it here? There are a couple of reasons.
If bikers are expected by the Police, insurers and of course other road users to meet the standard of careful and competent riding, so should the people who police our roads.
So if we spot anything less than that, we are likely to have a pop. If the police rider had done the lifesaver he’ll have seen that ‘dashcam’ car clearly wasn’t braking in anticipation of him entering the lane. Although he was using mirrors, the acute angle suggests he didn’t have a clear view of lane three as he would have either braked himself or diverted his angle to remain in lane two. Not an idiot, but clearly not reaching the required standard on this occasion,
This BTW, makes the current campaign by the Police Federation, to have careful and competent removed from the Road Traffic Act regulations that cover emergency vehicle drivers and riders, not an easy task. Sure, if we want to give more officers protection from prosecution when chasing criminals, we can’t let that lead to a lowering of driving standards.
The other reason is the video perhaps highlights a generally low standard of road awareness not just by the driver of the dashcam car, but by people watching the video, themselves road users at some point or another.
Get yourself sorted
It’s all too easy to just stare at the piece of road in front of you. But as observers of the car in lane two will have instantly spotted, reading the road is not just about the tarmac ahead, but all of the conditions surrounding you.
Image: © Scotland’s Worst Drivers