The skills advanced riding gives you are definitely worth having. At their most basic, you position yourself to look through bends, react to what is in front of you, and ride within your braking distances. However, does it make any positive difference in the cold and hard analysis of Judges, if things go pear shaped?
In my opinion, usually, no. Advanced riding is a bit ‘special interest’ and I say that as someone who passed his IAM test 30 years ago. Judges look for people who use the road reasonably and make reasonable observations. To the uninitiated ‘optimum positioning’ and ‘maximised sight lines’ all sound a bit, well, weird. And I rarely see a Judge who is especially impressed by advanced riding qualifications.
One female motorcyclist who I represented, who was training as an IAM observer was being goaded by Defence Counsel who suggested that her IAM qualifications make her ‘arrogant’. Her response was that she knew that her riding had room for improvement and anything that she could do to make her a better rider was time well sprent. It is one of the few times I have seen a Judge genuinely impressed by advanced riding qualifications.
There is also a second line of attack you open up when you parade an advanced riding qualification. Your cross examining barrister will have a fair few goes at picking out bits of Police Motorcycle Roadcraft and rest assured, they will put to you the bits which you won’t like. The Court room is a hostile environment and when you profess your advanced qualification you are exposing yourself to harder cross examination.
The law is straightforward enough: all road users have to ride or drive to the standards of the reasonably prudent and careful driver. No one without a blue light has a higher duty of care. I have seen advanced riders get skewered by trying too hard to get across just how advanced they are.
In a case I won, but I suspect more by the skin of my teeth than I’d have liked, the Judge observed he had heard a lot about all the various techniques the advanced riders used but observed wryly that it didn’t stop the riders colliding and he referred tellingly to ‘a cocoon of superiority’ in their own riding skills which he regarded as unjustified after the Defence barrister went to town on the ‘rote learning’ and ‘robotic analysis’ of the riders under cross examination.
Some insurers offer a modest discount for an advanced riding qualification and I am certain that the basic proposition of advanced riding positioning is a very fine skill to have, but if you find yourself in a Civil Court, your advanced riding badge will probably at best be neutral, but my experience is that parroting advanced rider speak actually alienates most people and Judges are people.
Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.
Given the difficult circumstances I believe we were dealt with clearly and compassionately.
Jeremy June 7, 2018
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