Scottish Parliament debate on strict liability for accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians
At the end of October, the Scottish Parliament debated a motion, tabled by the Scottish Green Party MSP Alison Johnstone, to discuss concerns over the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on Scottish roads and whether there should be strict liability for civil claims arising from road accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians. This would mean that motorists involved in such accidents would be presumed to be liable and it would be for motorists to prove that they were not to blame. This was an idea championed by the Liberal Democrats at their autumn conference.
As part of the motion, it was argued that “a stricter liability rule could have positive benefits for the safety of more vulnerable road users as part of a package of measures”.
Figures published earlier this year indicate that 9 cyclists died in road accidents in Scotland in 2012, with 167 seriously injured. The number of pedestrians who lost their lives in the same year as a result of road accidents was 57.
The UK is one of only a handful of European countries that do not have versions of a strict liability rule for road accidents involving vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
Keith Brown, the Minister for Transport and Veterans, welcomed the debate but indicated that, given the lack of “robust evidence” linking liability laws to cycling accident rates, he could not support the motion under debate in its current form, although he confirmed that debate on the issue would continue.
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