How to get the ultimate revenge on bad drivers

You’re cycling along, trying to get to work on time, feeling good with your new iPhone app tracking your progress and at some point the inevitable happens. Some clever person has found an incredible parking spot that just so happens to be a bike lane. This usually occurs roughly in the first 10 metres of leaving home.

Of course as a safe cyclist you know what you need to do and you start heading into the main traffic glancing behind to see who will let you in. For whatever reason the cars are feeling less than friendly today. Perhaps it is because they have been reading the latest rant in the Daily Mail about how cyclists are the cause of world poverty and are the reason it is raining today and are the reason it’s impossible to find a babysitter this weekend.

Eventually you manage to sneak in and then a white van driver (it doesn’t have to be white, after all we don’t live in the days of “they can have any colour they want as long as it’s black”) squeezes past within a few inches of you at a hair raising speed. It forces you to hit your brakes so as not to get hit as it pulls back into the lane too soon.

Naturally you feel the urge for retribution. But what is the best kind of retribution?

The Guardian reported last week on the benefit of reporting bad drivers rather than getting into an argument with them. The reporter Peter Walker (who has a cool ‘tash) managed to get a taxi driver cautioned and a note added to his record about his bad behaviour. Any repeat offenses would likely mean he would lose his licence.

Sure it’s probably not what in your deepest darkest thoughts you dream of doing to bad drivers.You probably think about kicking them in the belly, punching them or staring at them really angrily. (Most people usually go down the route of the final one).

How to report bad drivers

The first step is to make a mental note of the number plate, time and location. When I say mental note I mean write that stuff down because you are going to forget! 

If they are a London minicab or black cab driver then the Public Carriage Office is the route to go. Note however that they only have the power to look into cases of “discourtesy or abuse”.

You can also complain to TfL about dangerous bus drivers. If outside of London then the local council is your point of contact.

Alternatively if you can see which company the van belongs to then try contacting that company. Of course there is also the CTC Stop SMIDSY campaign where dangerous drivers can be reported.

Finally if all else fails then speak to the police. Usually for any serious notice to be taken then a witness is needed and the driving has to be dangerous not just bad.

The one thing to note with all of this is that it requires persistence on your part. Overall while nothing substantial may result out of the complaint it is useful to be make people aware of the issue rather than have them think “all our drivers are angels of the road”.

See also:

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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25 Responses to How to get the ultimate revenge on bad drivers

  1. Gary 16/02/2010 at 10:59 am #

    Complaining about bad drivers…mmmmmmm

    Points to note:

    If complaining about a bus driver, you must ensure you have the following information to speed up your complaint:
    Bus route number. (displayed on the front of the bus usually followed by its destination)
    Bus serial number. Can be displayed anywhere but usually on the front and the back of the bus
    The driver number, most important. Most buses have a yellow removalble plate on the side of the bus, this is the driver number and it identifies the driver of the bus at that time. Some companies are using a piece of laminated A4 paper above the oyster reader, but it is the same thing.
    Registration. Self explanatory and another way of ensuring action is taken against the correct driver.

    Taxis, a bit more difficult, but usually the reg will suffice, but if you can get the number of the driver all the better. Usually in a disc around thier necks or on the seats in the back and on the plate on the back of the cab, white with black writing.

    Or, you can stop traffic on Hammersmith one way system and go and see the driver of the bus that pulled out on you and explain to him the error of his ways….it does make you feel a whole lot better.

  2. Andreas 16/02/2010 at 11:13 am #

    Gary speaking from experience there!

  3. Alex 16/02/2010 at 12:36 pm #

    It’s definitely worth complaining for company cars, especially for big companies. I recently did a project at work that involved interviewing many fleet managers (people responsible for company car fleets). They said that they absolutely hate it when drivers drive in any risky way that could lead to an accident.

    If they suspect bad driving they’ll often have a word with the driver or send them on obligatory training to improve their driving skills. If companies know that a driver is a risk and do nothing, they share a legal responsibility when that driver does something wrong while driving on business.

    Many serious companies now have a phone number on the back of their trucks/vans/cars for reporting bad driving, but even if they don’t it’s worth getting in touch, asking to speak to the fleet manager and highlighting their responsibility as above.

  4. thereverent 16/02/2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Much better is to have an action camera on your bike/helmet so you are recording what has happened. This means you will have evidence of what happened and can check it later for registration details etc.
    Youtube has lots of channels and clips of this kind of thing.
    I’ve started using one for when I commute in by bike to work. Any incident gets uploaded to youtube with the car registration plate included.
    Now if insurers would start searching on youtube for number plates of cars they insure, they could spot bad drivers sooner and raise their premiums. This would prove a big deterrent to bad driving.

    Loved Gary’s comment.
    I’ve done the same with cars/taxis/buses and it’s quite effective. When a taxi is behind you and hooting for you to somehow disappear from the bus lane, I have stopped and asked him what he wanted. As a car horn is design to alert other road users, I think its only fair to stop and ask what they are alerting you to.

  5. Alex 16/02/2010 at 12:45 pm #

    By the way, if you need to prove to some stubborn employer that they’re responsible for the actions of their drivers:

    “The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work. This includes the time when they are driving, or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employees own vehicle.

    There will always be risks associated with driving. Although these cannot be completely controlled an employer has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to manage these risks down to as low a level as reasonably possible in the same way as they would in the workplace.”

    From: http://www.hse.gov.uk/roadsafety/index.htm

  6. Charlotte 17/02/2010 at 10:22 am #

    Good post there. Whilst it’s fabulous to fantasize about violent Spike-Bike style retribution on bad and dangerous drivers, back in the real world it’s a whole load more satisfying to know that at the very least, some moron of a van driver has been hauled over the coals by their boss for driving like a numpty with the company logo all over the side of his vehicle.

    Don’t be so sure that the Public Carriage Office are going to do much about taxis, though – I’ve tried this before and you’re on a hiding to nothing complaining to them. Unless you’re a paying passenger complaining about the behaviour of your driver, they’re not interested.

    Simillarly, don’t get your expectations up if you’ve reported an incident to the police. Unless you can give a rock solid account of what happened, there’s CCTV and an independent witness of the events, you’re unlikely to see a prosecution. The best that I’ve managed (and I’ve had more than one incident over the years) is getting the police to formally caution the teenage passenger of an overtaking vehicle who leaned out of a window and slapped me on the bottom as I was riding.

    • Vladimir 05/12/2011 at 3:41 pm #

      “the teenage passenger of an overtaking vehicle who leaned out of a window and slapped me on the bottom as I was riding”

      aww man, that just isn’t on!!!
      I’ve had that experience, except I am male and the person leaning out was female!
      I’m not sure why she did it though! I’m a bit of a lard arse…maybe it was an ironic gesture? my first reaction was laughter; but then I felt somehow violated.

      the most dangerous part of it was that I lost my balance and barely regained it.

  7. Jim 17/02/2010 at 10:58 am #

    The Metropolitan Police have an online facility for reporting ‘illegal or nuisance road use’: https://secure.met.police.uk/roadsafelondon/ . I think this must be new, as I only heard of it a few days ago.

    Someone on londonfgss.com said they reported a case of dangerous driving on it and the police quickly called them back to find out more info. That said, I’m not hugely optimistic that it will lead to significantly stricter enforcement, but it’s better than nothing.

  8. Andreas 18/02/2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Alex, all good tips there thanks. Also cheers for reference to health and safety act definitely a good one to remind companies about.
    Charlotte, thanks for the tips, shame to see the police failing to take things seriously.
    Jim, I’ve not heard about that resource before but thank you for recommending it. Might test it out next time someone does something unbelievably stupid.

  9. Xander 28/02/2010 at 1:59 am #

    I was recently almost killed by a perverted idiot driver while crossing tower bridge. long story short i got his number plate and car details and a nifty photo of him which i took while cycling and sent it all to the local police department in that area. they tracked him down by his numberplate and saw his actions against me by looking at the cctv of the area and he got a formal warning. if he does it again his license will be taken away and maybe even prosecuted! 1-0 cyclists!

    • Andreas 28/02/2010 at 9:11 am #

      Nice! Glad it all worked out well. Think this is a good example of a victory for a cyclist and how something can be done. Interesting to see the LA police chief admitting their force needs to do way more to help cyclists. Perhaps we could have a pledge of support for cyclists once this “lycra louts” argument passes on to something more important

    • Fab 02/08/2010 at 1:35 pm #

      well done! I wish i’d done the same when this idiot driver turned on to the road without looking and I had to break so hard to avoid him – gave me a big scare! I was so agitated, i caught up with him at the next set of traffic lights (it was a red haha) and I gave him a bit of an earful. He just dismissed everything and sped off, but caught up with him again and positioned myself in front of him and cycled very slowly,,,not very mature, i know, so next time I will do as you have.

  10. Adrian 16/07/2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Has anyone tried reporting a bad bus driver to TFL? I’ve done and the response was to complain directly to the operator company. I did this, and I’m yet to hear a response. I also used the link to report to the police. I did receive a phone call back very quickly, but nothing has happened in the 3 months since then.

    To acknowledge thereverent, I have the whole incident on my action cam showing the lights turning green, me taking off and dodging a pedestrian running the lights, and the blast of the horn from the bus as it careers through the red light at speed, missing me by less than a metre.
    Route number, drivers face, my reflection all clearly visible. Registration obscured but readable due to sunlight.

    • Andreas 16/07/2010 at 7:46 pm #

      Sounds like you’ve got all the evidence you need. I would chase up both the police and the operator company to see where that gets you

  11. Mike 04/02/2011 at 4:51 pm #

    I see it’s the usually “have a go at motorists” again why do all cyclists think there own the roads I find cyclists very arrogant people how think the above everyone in vehicle and are saints of the road. At least motorists pay for the use of the road i.e. road tax and insurance as cyclists don’t pay penny hoe do you think pay for those stupid bike lanes.

    Cyclists think they can do anything on the road nip through red lights, ride down paths shoot across pedestrian crossing’s when vehicles have stopped if motorist did half the things of them then they would have points, fines etc.

    Talking about reporting bad drivers well that’s easy take the Reg but how do you report bad cyclist there no way of identifying them, so think they should have some form of Reg plate and pay their share of the road tax.

    As for insurance cyclist should some form of it as how do you claim when they have caused damage to your vehicle as this has happened to me when a cyclist squeezed down the side at lights and put a 7 inch deep scratch down the passenger door.

    Anyway there are my thoughts on the subject.

    • thereverent 04/02/2011 at 5:23 pm #

      A 7 inch deep scratch in your door! Yout door must be very thick.

      Motoristdon’t pay for the roads, they are paid from general taxation.
      Nobody pays road tax, it was abolished in 1937. VED (the tax disc) is linked to emmissions and zero emmision vehicles pay nothing.

      Most cyclists will have 3rd Party insurance. It normally comes with contents insurance policies, or membership of the CTC or LCC. It’s very cheap as the damage a cyclist could do is very small.

      There are plenty of drivers who don’t obey the rules of the road and drive dangerously:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gnh1IN4OmsE
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNVbaPkbAi0
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bF__xvOx10
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o972YoTrNS8

    • Aaron 13/03/2011 at 3:27 pm #

      Typical response from another ill-educated motorist. Even if only motorists did pay for the roads, I think you’d find most cyclists also drive a car.
      You seem to just be trying to justify your bad attitude, maybe you should ride a bike for once and find out what it’s like? Educate yourself.

      • matt 13/04/2011 at 2:52 pm #

        I think education is the answer!
        Idiot bikers (often kids) who fly through red lights and alongs pavements.
        idiot drivers who assume that all bikers are the above and deserve abuse.

        When i stop at red lights on my bike, and a guy hurtles past me and through the lights i get a warm feeling of superiority; all the other drivers / spectators at that junction now realise that us cyclists are not all the same! :)

  12. A driver 30/09/2011 at 7:30 pm #

    O.k so, will i be reported if i run you over because you are a law of your very own and can ride through red (stop) lights?

    I totally agree with mike – along with your weekend car you should also have bike insurance and number plates. That way we can also use the cctv to identify you and therefore give you some punishment back.

    let the blah blah blah commence :)

  13. Ashleigh 01/12/2011 at 4:17 pm #

    I reported a bad black cab to TFL who (like many black cabs, cars, vans and other cyclists habitually do) undertook dangerously whilst I was turning right into MY OWN BLOODY ROAD(!!! It’s often used as a cut-through to avoid Camden Highstreet) and they said they had no power to do anything about it. I don’t have a video camera becuase I’m still on the side of “do we really need to have survalence to keep other drivers in check?” but I am thinking about it…

  14. Nick 08/08/2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Try reporting them here http://www.BadDrivingReport.co.uk.
    Our aims are to
    1/ help people learn and improve by seeing what others think of their driving
    2/ identify frequent or dangerous cases and pass the info along to relevant authorities

    not just for drivers acting illegally, also those that are causing a nuisance or generally causing you to arrive to work feeling stressed or angry.

    We DO intend to get things done, this is not just a rant site.

    We also allow links to images and video.

  15. Tom 11/12/2012 at 1:50 am #

    And where do i go to report the cyclists running red lights and colliding with children/pushchairs/elderly people because the road rules do not apply to them?
    Or the cyclists who pull in front of me forcing me to brake suddenly?
    or the cyclists who think if am i turning left in front of them it is fine to carry on and cycle into the side of me and then think i am in the wrong?

    exactly….

    • Ashleigh 11/12/2012 at 8:09 am #

      Hi Tom,

      I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls but – to hell with it…

      1) A very small number of road collisions seem to be caused by cyclists not obeying road rules: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study

      2) Arguably (and I say that because I don’t agree) there is an argument that running reds is safer than waiting at lights: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3314892.ece.

      3) If a cyclist makes a mistake (collides with children on the road there is a pretty obvious punishment – often broken limbs. The punishment handed out to stupid cyclists is Darwinism. Stupid drivers often get out of their car unscathed while extremely serious injuries are suffered by more vulnerable road users.

      Here’s some more useful data for you Tom: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13040607 :)

      • Tom 16/12/2012 at 12:19 am #

        Excellent reading there thanks.
        Still i find it a daily frustration that cyclits not only ignor every single red light i stop at, but if i stop to ask them why they simply through abuse (and sometimes their bike) at me.

        And from my experiance i have never seen a cyclist that causes an accident actually stop!

        • Ashleigh 16/12/2012 at 12:56 am #

          Would’ve been more excellent had you actually read it Tom!

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