We all know the rules regarding traffic lights, including amber. Don’t be so quick to take the blame if you’ve done nothing wrong.
I was approaching traffic lights on my NC700 – admittedly not the world’s sexiest bike, but it is my commuter bike, and on the positive side no one wants to nick it.
It has hard-wearing but not especially grippy tyres. I approached a set of traffic lights which were on green in very heavy rain, with raindrops bouncing off the Tarmac. The lights started flickering on to amber, and I made the decision not to brake and to cross on amber. Ahead of me I could see a bus waiting to turn right, in a right-turn lane, and sure enough, it turned right, across my path, and the front of the bus scooped me up in a surprisingly un-violent collision. The front of the bus was one hell of a mess, but I was completely unhurt; even my bike did not have much damage to it.
The Met Police turned up, and I was expecting trouble, but the Police were sympathetic, it turns out the bus driver, when asked by the Police, said he knew the route and he knew my light would be on red, so he turned right. The Police told me that they were going to recommend that the bus driver was prosecuted, not me, even though I fessed up that I had gone through on amber, but I explained my reasons, and the Police accepted them.
I later got a letter that no one would be prosecuted, and I was not particularly bothered as we all make driving errors. I was then sent a letter of claim from loss adjusters from the bus company demanding a huge bill for replacement bus rental and repairs to the bus. I forwarded my letters on to my Insurers and told them what the Police had said and insisted that they got the police report.
My insurers did get the police report, and it turns out that passengers on the bus were supportive of me, and the bus driver himself confirmed he had no filter light on before he turned right. One passenger on the bus, who was standing at the front of the bus, said that I was clearly visible to him for some distance before the bus driver started turning right, and he shouted for the bus driver to stop before he knocked me off.
My insurers have told me that they want to make a partial payout to the bus company as I was an ‘amber gambler’ and bang goes my no claims bonus for my NC, but also for my sportsbike. Are my insurers right to be paying out?
No. The police statements are excellent, and neutral. The standing passenger said he saw you riding in a straight line, clearly visible, and the passenger says he can give no explanation at all as to how the bus driver failed to see you.
The bus driver shoots himself through both feet by saying: “I knew I was safe to turn, because I know the lights, and the biker’s lights are always red when the lights ahead of me are turning amber.” He goes on to add that you were speeding so he must have seen you, or he didn’t see you and he is lying about the speeding so he has put a fresh round into his knee, having finished with his feet.
Your amber light is a red herring. Fundamentally, It does not give him the right to ignore you, a patently visible hazard coming towards him – and If this case were to go to Court I have no doubt that the bus company’s case would be dismissed.
I know the loss adjusters who are appointed by this bus company. They are aggressive, stubborn and none too bright. However, they very rarely go to court, because they must appoint a solicitor, rather than carry on with their nonsense in letters. Because claims adjusters and insurers cannot ‘conduct litigation’ they will have to go to a solicitor, and any competent lawyer reading the police report would have to advise the bus company that turning right across the path of a motorcyclist because its driver thought he knew what colour a light he could not see was would fall flat on its arse.
I can give no explanation as to why your Insurers have just folded like this, sometimes I see insurers fold for small claims, because If they pay out £1,000 worth of damage, and then load your insurance for the next three years, they come out quids in. However, this is a case claimed north of £25,000. I just hope your Insurers have the stomach for a fight rather than paying out a couple of thousand pounds, and then spanking you for the next five years with an increased premium.
Fast Bikes July 2020