The traffic was heavy, so I started overtaking using an area of white diagonal stripes. I was desperate to be on time as I hated my old job. Despite it being a 50mph limit, I wasn’t going that quick, i.e. around 45mph.
Up ahead I could see a transit van start to indicate and swing out of the queue to do a U-turn. In my helmet I was saying ‘you cheeky git’ so I beeped my horn a few times and flashed my headlight. The van driver looked like he hesitated, so I thought he had seen me and went to crack on. However, he then just swung out.
I managed to get on the brakes but couldn’t avoid hitting him and smashed into the side of the van. Anyway, last week the matter went to trial and whilst I won, the crusty old judge said I was 30% to blame for the accident because of my speed; because he said I had time to see and react to the van; and because he said I was overtaking on the stripes.
I am not happy and have threatened to sue the judge. I need to stress the striped area was bordered by a broken white line, i.e. not a solid line so legally I could ride there. What do you think?
You cannot ‘sue’ the judge but you could try and appeal the decision if the judge has got it wrong legally. If you want to do that, the general rule is you must lodge your appeal within 21 days of the judgment.
However, before you go off on a frolic, it’s important to remember that every case turns on its own facts, so the judge has made a decision after he has heard all of the evidence. What I would say is that Rule 130 of the Highway Code states: ‘If the area is bordered by a broken white line, you should not enter the area unless it is necessary and you can see that it is safe to do so.’
Whilst I can follow what you did, it is certainly arguable it wasn’t ‘necessary’ for you to be overtaking using the striped area. In addition, whilst not riding in excess of the speed limit, a judge may well have been entitled to find you were riding ‘too fast in the circumstances’, i.e. overtaking stationary cars on the stripes; and that you failed to react in time to a hazard you had seen.
Whilst it may be a bitter pill to swallow, 70/30 in your favour sounds like a fair result in my view and appealing could just cost you a lot of money. Speak to your solicitor first before heading down the appeal path.
More Bikes January 2023