Organisations such as the LCC are keen to lobby for a change in the law to enact "strict liability". For those not au-fait with this measure, the name is a misleading. A better description would be that a presumption of liability would be made in favour of the most vulnerable party in a road accident. This would only affect civil cases, not criminal prosecution. In effect it would force insurance companies to pay out to cyclists and pedestrians in the case of an accident with a motor vehicle, unless they can demonstrate that the accident was due to reckless behaviour from the cyclist or pedestrian. It would stop the current situation where insurance companies can use their resources to downgrade compensation payments because of red herrings such as whether the victim was wearing a helmet. It may also stop judges siding with this erroneous reasoning as well.
Strict Liability law is enacted in most of Europe and is a good thing. Unfortunately the Mail gets all frothy when the topic arises, so the chances of the UK getting this law is slim. It is odd that the Mail dislikes the law so much - they appear to believe our streets are rampant with reckless pavement cyclists killing and maiming without a care (despite what the statistics actually prove), and strict liability would also apply when a cyclist hit a pedestrian and would favour the pedestrian. But I digress.
Although "strict liability" is a good thing, the LCC in their article in the link above, appear to believe that it will encourage people to cycle. Some articles go so far as to say roads will be made attractive to cyclists with this law as drivers will suddenly become much more cautious around them.
This is pure bunkum. And here is why.
Most motorists, aside from a small number of total psychopaths, don't want to kill or injure cyclists. Most close passes, SMIDSYs and other endangering behaviour occurs because most motorists don't understand cyclists needs and most people have a terrible ability to calculate risk. Many motorists are simply unaware of the danger these manoeuvres present to cyclists. Changing the law won't change behaviour as the motorist doing the close pass or the bullying pulling out doesn't believe they will hit the cyclist. A change in the law that changes the assumption of liability in civil compensation matters is simply not going to figure in their thinking.
Those who believe that "strict liability" will change driver behaviour point to places such as the Netherlands or Denmark where motorists are clearly more aware and more considerate of cyclists. But they aren't doing this because of "strict liability", they are more considerate because these motorists are usually also cyclists at times and so understand the cyclists' point of view. Until we get more motorists also being cyclists then we will always have the silly, irritating and downright dangerous behaviour we experience now.