MCN & Gavin Grewal explain some of the scenarios and what they mean from a legal perspective.

Welcome to MCN. Now hopefully you would have seen a lot of our riding tips videos over the past few years but one thing which is quite a new phenomenon is the fact that now more than ever we’re being watched while we’re riding.

Video cameras are absolutely everywhere now and I’m sure that as I’m going through this town I’m being tracked every inch of the way whether it’s from CCTV cameras on lamp posts and on buildings to dash cams, van cameras, lorry cameras and even the GoPro I’m wearing myself right now which is similar to what a lot of riders do to record their ride.

One of the things I was talking about in my ride is how we’ve been watched all the time and there’s kind of three specific ways we’ve been watched now the cctv dash cams and the cameras we carry ourselves so first question would be how has cctv changed our world as a rider you know is it good or bad?

Yeah I suppose we probably hear more about the bad if I’m honest because you’re right the world’s changed. You know if you look at sports bike riders from you know the 90s you won’t be getting away with with things like that in this day and age with CCTV cameras in built-up areas you know they’re everywhere.

A question I get asked a lot can they be used in evidence? Well yes they can you know there’s nothing in law that stops them being being used so you know if we give the example of riding through town and you know you’re silly enough to pop a wheelie is that going to land you in hot water?

Potentially yes of course it’s not automatic so it will mean that an operator has seen it you know has saved it has given it to the authorities and that might then spark an investigation into you and your riding.

When it comes to things like speed I think it’s trickier okay because you might have a CCTV camera mounted up high but is that the best position to work out your speed over a set distance. Practically I’ve never seen it in a prosecution.

I have seen it in civil cases where a biker’s gone along a road and a petrol forecourt cameras captured them you know, doing double the speed limit, so I’ve seen it in cases like that where the other side get the evidence and they say well actually you’re traveling double the speed limit so you must share some of the blame.

The take away from that will be if you don’t want to be embarrassed by what’s on the camera just tone the riding there being watch
more so just keep it in your trousers a little bit more.

Loads of vehicles are carrying dash cams now so is that good or bad for us?

Now actually this is a developing area of law. Dash cams have exploded onto the scene in the last eight years and what you’ll find is that police forces have been smart, a lot of forces now have got online portals so if you’re a car driver and you’ve got a dash cam and you record something which you think actually, hang on you know I’m not happy with that it doesn’t take a lot of work for you to download the footage and upload it to the police. Dash cams have really impacted riding and riding behavior, there’s a traffic cop in every other car in this day and age.

I’ve dealt with a number of cases where dash cams have worked against the biker. Last year I was in court for a case where we tried running arguments like ‘ it wasn’t a clear depiction of what actually happened’ and we started getting experts involved with regards to analyzing the footage.

I say it’s a developing area of law because there’s limited powers of seizure so unless the car driver volunteers it to the police they’ve got limited powers under PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence act) to seize the footage so you’ll see this area I think changing over the next five or ten years.

What about your take on the cameras that we put on our own bikes and our own crash helmets is that a good idea?

That’s a bit of both really. I’ve dealt with a number of cases where actually having a helmet camera on has made the case. I’ll give you an example of a biker, he was a young lad on an RS125, he’s on a roundabout and there’s a collision between him and a car. The car driver says he took the racing line and that our rider zipped up with his friends and hit the side of the car and the biker swears blind that he was in the correct lane and that the car driver realised she’s in the wrong lane so she just turned across him.

Ordinarily where you’ve got one version of events against another you’ll weigh that up and you might look at case law so there’s a really well known case Grace and Tanner [2003] EWCA Civ 354 on that point and the general consensus is if you’ve got two people on a roundabout in the wrong lane it’s gonna go 50/50. Motorists and motorcyclists need to look out for each other and make sure that you don’t collide.

Now in our case the chap had a helmet camera on and it showed clear as day that he was in the correct lane the car driver just missed their turn so instead of carrying on they’ve just swerved and knocked him off so the helmet cam footage absolutely made the case.

The flip side is would I want to wear a camera and ride my ZZR1400 out on a Sunday morning? Probably not. It’s weighing up as to how do you want to ride, would you be happy with someone looking at that footage and if the answer is ‘no’ then don’t really have a camera.

I’ve dealt with cases on both sides and what about if you have an incident that genuinely wasn’t your fault but a few miles prior to the accident the speed at which you were riding was less than acceptable?

If you have an accident you have to look at what happened at that moment in time. When you’ve had the accident you were doing 30 in a 30 but the fact that two miles earlier you know you’re doing double the speed limit, is that relevant? Not really. Whilst it’s not great evidence, will it impact any civil claim? no it won’t.

I mean if it shows you speeding at the moment of an accident of course you know it’s going to cause you trouble and that’s not to say that it will defeat the case as a whole but it might then go to contributory negligence, which is okay but what did the biker do wrong and on what percentage do we reduce the value of his claim.

I think you’ve got to assume now when you’re riding you are being watched all the time and you’ve got to ride accordingly so my advice to you would be if you want to go crazy go on a track day.