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judge finds for bikes !

Words and pictures by Simon Bradley


Read this - it's important

If you ride through town, or indeed if you ever find yourself in a position where you are likely to be filtering past cars or other vehicles then this applies to you.

If those cars aren't moving quickly the the grey area has gone - this biker is NOT breaking the law any more...It's sadly a rare event to be able to write an article about the law being changed in favour of motorcyclists. But that's exactly what has happened, and what this article is about.

In civil law, while there are obviously rules and regulations against which cases are judged, the over-riding factor which affects the court's decision almost every time is something called case law. In effect, if a similar case has been heard before and a decision has been made then that decision is taken as law. The precedent has been set and if there are sufficient similarities then any further case will be decided the same way. Unless a judge sees reason to challenge that finding. But they'd need to have a very good reason.

Now way back in 1966 a collision took place between a car and a bike, The bike was filtering through stationary traffic when the car did a U-turn and clobbered the rider. For various reasons, no doubt including the prevailing attitude towards bikers at the time, the judge ruled that 80% of the the blame was attributable to the rider. This finding, Powell vs Moody, went into case law and was used as the basis for every car v bike incident that the driver's solicitor could squeeze it into. We got stitched up.

In 1972 a second case changed the finding, making it 50/50. Better but still not really acceptable. I mean, you're filtering past stationary cars and some clown t-bones you and you have to pick up half the bill?

Well in 2006 an appeal court judge stood the whole thing on its head. In Davis vs Shrogin, the judge found that, and I quote, "a filtering motorcyclist passing stationary or very slow moving traffic could not be to blame if a collision occured if the rider had no chance to take avoiding action."

They're stationary, the biker is totally in the clear. And if one of them makes a U turn and knocks him off, they're 100% in the wrong...In other words, if you are filtering past traffic which is stopped or almost stopped and someone pulls out in front of you close enough that you can't avoid a collision when travelling at a reasonable speed then the resposibiltiy for the collision rests squarely with the other driver.

Ladies and gentlemen, filtering past stationary traffic is no longer a grey area - it's completely legal. It gets a little iffy when the traffic is moving at more than a crawl - that still is a grey area. And once things are moving along properly the you're breaking the law when you filter.

Obviously I'd still earnestly recommend that you engage the services of a good, bike savvy solicitor (try calling Plantec on 0870 284 3431 for someone who will handle all the rest of the hassle as well) but knowing that one little phrase - "Davis vs Shrogin" - could make a huge difference to the outcome. Or even, if your solicitor isn't as switched on as they might be, to the approach they take.

It's good news. But try not to need it, eh?



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