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Soapbox: Pedestrians and cyclists lack protection -  Kim Harding

Soapbox: Pedestrians and cyclists lack protection - Kim Harding

The UK was the first country in the world to require drivers of motor vehicles to have insurance. When the Road Traffic Act (1930) introduced compulsory third-party insurance, it was intended to provide a means of assured compensation for the injured victims of road traffic collisions (then as now, mostly pedestrians and cyclists).

However, since then we have created a David v Goliath culture, where the odds are frequently stacked against the vulnerable who had the misfortune to have been hit by the driver of a motor vehicle. In many cases, it is impossible for them to claim compensation (to which are fairly and reasonably entitled) without resorting to litigation. This only adds to the distress for those who have been injured through no fault of their own.

We at Road Share think it is right for Scotland to lead the rest of the UK by changing its civil law to respect and protect the vulnerable in society by moving to a system of presumed liability. This change will support pedestrians and cyclists injured in road traffic collisions. 

All political parties who care about social justice should incorporate the Road Share proposals for presumed liability in their 2016 manifestos. We can no longer sit back and watch our legal system fail the nation’s pedestrians and cyclists. We need to ensure that fairness to the individual sits at the very heart of our civil legal system. At present, the process for obtaining compensation is heavily weighted against the injured individual who has to take on the might of the driver’s insurance company.

Presumed liability would encourage insurance companies to re-evaluate their prospects of success in showing that the injured party has been negligent in some way. This would mean that vulnerable road users would be compensated quickly and fairly without resort to expensive court actions. These court actions affect everyone in terms of cost, time, money and, often, for the injured party, a great deal of stress.

Kim Harding is a member of the steering group of the Road Share campaign

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