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Cycling: Scottish Parliament debates 'stricter liability' law change

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) yesterday debated a potential new law that would see motorists face stricter liability if they are involved in accidents with cyclists, reports the BBC.

The law change would potentially see the burden of proof in legal cases involving accidents between motorists and cyclists change, so that it would be for a car driver to prove that they were not at fault for an accident.

Campaigners would like to see car drivers made automatically at fault for accidents involving cyclists, unless they can prove that the accident was not their fault.

Those proposing the bill say they already have cross-party support for a new law from Scottish MPs.

At present the UK is one of only five countries in the EU that does not protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users with some form of 'stricter liability' law.

Campaigners say that at present it is for a cyclist to prove that a motorist caused a collision, something that is often difficult and can lead to lengthy delays in receipt of compensation.

In some serious and even fatal cases it has taken up to two years for compensation to be paid.

The law change was proposed by campaign group Cycle Law Scotland and would see a motorist presumed liable for compensation for any accident involving a cyclist or pedestrian.

The motorist would then have the opportunity to prove that they were not at fault for the accident, to absolve themselves from liability.

It is hoped that introducing stricter liability will make the claims process for cyclists quicker and easier, and may even act as a deterrent by forcing drivers to take more care around cyclists.

Scottish Green Party MSP Alison Johnstone said: "The number of fatalities and injuries to pedestrians and cyclists on Scotland's roads is unacceptably high."