I agree with the argument in Cycling UK’s report, ‘Cycle safety: make it simple’, that there needs to be a comprehensive review of road traffic offences and penalties, to cover careless and dangerous driving offences as well as the creation of new cycling offences, as the current legal framework for dealing with the former is inadequate and applied inconsistently.
The definition of ‘careless and dangerous driving’ does need to be much tighter and stronger, to ensure that appropriate sanctions are applied to those who cause death and life-changing injuries through it. Much tougher consequences need to follow if the sanctions are to act as an effective deterrent and to acknowledge the suffering of the victims and their families: a minor fine or short prison sentence seems derisory when devastating harm has been caused. The use of the ‘exceptional hardship’ argument against a lengthy driving ban also needs to be tightened, and penalties for causing death or serious injury by opening the door of a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner significantly increased.
It would be irresponsible and contradictory to encourage increased use of cycling on health grounds (amongst others) without providing effective protection to cyclists, who are particularly vulnerable road-users.
I have written to the Transport Minister to encourage him to recommend a wider review of road traffic offences and penalties that promote road safety, to ensure they convey the message, as you say, that road danger must be eliminated, as opposed to seen as in any way acceptable.
I will provide a further update as soon as I have received a response from the Minister.