Campaign educates drivers about vulnerable road users
Norfolk Constabulary have held their first Operation Close Pass of the year.
Last month (Monday 27 March 2023) saw officers proactively working to reduce the dangers caused by motorists who choose to drive too closely to cyclists on Norfolk’s roads.
Close Pass is a road safety operation with a focus on driver education over enforcement and involves officers in plain clothes going out on bicycles to identify drivers who either don’t allow enough room when overtaking, follow too closely or ‘left-hook’ cyclists by overtaking and turning left crossing into their path.
Officers on bicycles are equipped with action camera devices to secure and record evidence of driving offences. If an offence has occurred, it is reported to uniformed officers on motorcycles who are deployed within the operation area.
A motorcycle officer then sets out to stop the offending vehicle and provided the offence was not so serious as to warrant immediate enforcement action (e.g., drink-driving or dangerous driving), they are offered the opportunity to be escorted back to the engagement site for an educational input.
If the driver of the offending vehicle declined the offer of an educational input, they would then be issued with a Traffic Offence Report (TOR) for consideration of the offences of either careless driving or driving without due care and attention.
The educational input aims to make the driver aware of why their manner of driving was careless or inconsiderate, inform them of the typical hazards faced by cyclists and the use of a ‘Pass Mat’ which highlights the spacing that should be used for cyclists, with 1.5metres being the recommended overtaking clearance.
On this occasion, 19 drivers received educational engagement with a further five issued with TORs for a variety of offences including passing cyclists in a dangerous manner and use of their mobile phone.
The team aim to run a Close Pass operation once a month across the county for the rest of 2023.
Sergeant Ben Hawkins, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “As the weather improves and the evenings become lighter, we are aware that we are likely to see an increase in cyclists using Norfolk’s roads.
“We are using Op Close Pass to raise awareness amongst drivers of how they can reduce the danger posed to cyclists. Failing to give a cyclist enough room is an offence of driving without due care and attention and could result in points on your licence or being issued with a fine.
“Updates in the Highway Code, introduced last year, means it is a mandatory requirement to pass cyclists and other vulnerable road users with at least 1.5m of room (2m for horses).
“I would like to stress the importance of looking out for yourself and other road users when you travel. A lapse in concentration or inability to judge the road scene correctly could have catastrophic consequences.”