News and Insights
2 March 2022
The UK Highway Code (the “UK Code”) was recently updated to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists by placing more responsibility on drivers of vehicles under a “Hierarchy of Road Users”.
On the 29 January 2022, this updated UK Code came into force in Jersey and places new responsibilities on ALL road users in Jersey. Motorists should now give priority to cyclists and horse riders using junctions or changing lanes and leave at least 1.5 metres of space when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph. In turn cyclists should now, in certain situations, adopt a default position on the road and allow fast moving cars to overtake when it is safe to do so.
In anticipation of the updated UK Code coming into force, we reviewed local data relating to car-on-bike collisions in Jersey. The below graphs show the amount of reported road traffic collisions (“RTCs”) involving cyclists in Jersey from 2011-2021, where they occurred by Parish and the severity of injuries sustained by cyclists:
Jersey statistics summary
There have been 451 reported RTCs involving cyclists since 2011 with 95% of those resulting in injuries to the cyclist. 37% of RTCs occurred in St Helier, while under 1% occurred in St Mary. Over 75% of injuries were recorded as slight and just under 25% classed as serious with one fatality. Jersey has legislated for causing injury or death by dangerous driving, which carries serious criminal sanctions and therefore it is important for all road users to also be aware of this legislation.
Criminal statistics and sanctions
Less than 1 in 4 Jersey car-on-bike RTCs, resulted in criminal sanctions being issued to road users, however, Jersey motorists are over 24 times more likely to receive criminal sanctions than cyclists. The maximum prison sentence for causing serious injury by careless or dangerous driving is currently 2 and 5 years respectively, whilst the maximum prison sentence for causing death by careless or dangerous driving is 5 and 10 years respectively. A conviction for any dangerous driving offence will also result in a mandatory disqualification from driving.
RTC personal injury
In addition to criminal sanctions, those who cause injury by careless or dangerous driving may also be liable to compensate the injured party for personal injury by way of a civil claim. Road users with valid vehicle insurance will generally be indemnified in respect of personal injury claims, which can range from very low value to settlements running into millions of pounds, depending on the severity and consequences of the injuries sustained.
When deciding whether one road user is liable for causing injury to another, the Court recognises that pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists are vulnerable road users. When a vulnerable road user is involved in a collision with a car or Heavy Goods Vehicle, they are much more likely to be injured than vice versa, as demonstrated by the percentage of cyclists injured in RTCs in Jersey (95%).
The above concept is recognised in the legal term causative potency i.e. the potential for road users to cause damage to each other. Essentially, causative potency reflects that vehicles are potentially dangerous weapons. The bigger and heavier the vehicle, the more dangerous it is considered by the Court, and thus it follows that drivers of larger vehicles are expected to be more vigilant.
Whilst that is the general legal position, it is important to note that the Court will also scrutinise the conduct of a vulnerable road user, such as a cyclist, to determine whether they have acted in a way which is considered more causatively potent, than the driver of a vehicle. For instance, in the UK case of Malasi v Attmed, a cyclist who ran a red light and collided with a vehicle, had his compensation reduced by 80%, even though the vehicle was travelling 10-20mph over the speed limit.
Adhering to the updated UK Code should give vulnerable road users more protection and potentially reduce the amount of RTCs and related legal proceedings in Jersey, in line with Jersey’s target to reduce the number of fatal and serious road accidents by 50% by 2032. Local critics are concerned some elements may not be workable in Jersey, for instance it may not be possible to leave 1.5 meters of space when overtaking cyclists on some of Jersey’s smaller roads.
From a legal perspective, the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 governs how the UK Code is used in the Jersey Courts when deciding which party is liable for an RTC. Importantly, failing to observe the UK Code in Jersey will not, in itself, render the road user liable for criminal proceedings however, such failures will be considered by the Jersey Courts when determining both criminal and civil liability for RTCs. Put more simply, the Jersey Courts will be receptive to the updated UK Code and it will be interesting to see whether the Government implements any further measures to help achieve Jersey’s objective to reduce road collisions by 50% in the next 10 years. In respect of RTCs involving cyclists, such measures may include more segregated cycle lanes, which will depend on government and public attitude, mandatory insurance for cyclists and the further regulation of e-bikes.
If you have been involved in an RTC, we recommend that you contact a specialist lawyer in this area. Viberts, has a specialist litigation team who can guide you through this process, we also offer a range of fee structures to suit our client’s individual financial circumstances.
This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be relied on as legal or other advice.
 Jersey adopts the UK Code, but it should be read together with the Jersey Highway Code, which sets out Jersey’s different rules.
 The statistical information referenced in this article was provided to Viberts in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011. Not all data obtained by Viberts is set out in the above graphs. A full copy of the data can be found here: Road Traffic Collisions Involving Cyclists,
 Article 23A and 26A of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 as amended.
 Articles 23 and 25A of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 as amended.
 If serious injury or death is caused by the dangerous driving, the minimum disqualification will be 2 years unless there are exceptional reasons for the Court to deem otherwise. Likewise, death caused by careless driving has a minimum of 12 months disqualification, unless the Court considers there are exceptional reasons.
  EWHC 4083
 Article 85(3) of the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law 1956 as amended.