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What to do at an incident

There is a lot of information on this page, which might seem daunting at first, but please read through it the first time and you will find that coming back to it to look for specific information next time will be much easier.

Be prepared

It is advisable to take a few items with you on every bike trip, just to be prepared in case an incident occurs:

  • Notebook/paper and a pen
  • Camera (or the camera on your phone)
Some cyclists in Hong Kong and around the world are now using small video cameras on their bikes. These can be attached to the bike or the helmet (forwards and/or backwards facing), and are a useful way of recording the whole incident.  It is a recommended to state the date and time, and start and destination of the journey, when you start recording, as a reference if it is used as evidence.

What to do at the time of the incident

Depending on the type of incident, it may be necessary to catch up and stop the vehicle to talk with the driver. Once the driver is with you, calmly talk to him to find out if he knows what he did and that it was wrong or dangerous. If he genuinely apologises, we should be understanding and lenient.

If the incident is more serious, or the driver becomes agitated, the remainder of this page will help you understand the next steps to get the police involved. If you would prefer to make a complaint directly to the offending driver’s employers, there is more guidance on the complaints and follow-up page, though of course all incidents involving the police should also be reported to the offending driver’s employers if a public vehicle is involved.

What to do next

Write down details of everything. We have produced a convenient Vehicle Incident Report that can be printed double-sided to cover the most important aspects of information that needs to be collected at the incident, and you are welcome to download it, print it out, and carry it with you at all times. If you feel that the incident  requires police attendance, they should be called before you do anything else.

The most important information to be recorded would be details such as:

  • Your speed
  • Their speed
  • Your position in the road
  • The offending vehicle and driver details
  • Location of the incident
  • When you first noticed the offending vehicle
  • Any actions taken by you
  • Any actions taken by the offending vehicle
  • Road conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Date and time
  • Witnesses to the incident (get contact details)
Don’t do anything that might be illegal, such as touching the car (or the driver!), though explaining the incident from your point of view can be helpful, however it is received, as this may help the offending driver understand how he should drive when encountering cyclists  next time.

Consider objectively whether you were doing anything that could be wrong.

When the police arrive

Generally, the first police to arrive will be the regular Hong Kong Police, and they will review the situation and take brief details of both parties, and then the incident will be put into one of two categories by the police:

  • An Accident (ie. an impact or collision, or where there’s an injury) which is dealt with by the regular Hong Kong Police by taking statements from all parties at the police station, taking photographs of the scene, etc.
  • A Complaint which is dealt with by the Hong Kong Traffic Police and involves a follow-up written complaint, and is probably a much less serious category, though it can still lead to a prosecution.
If there was an impact, explain all injuries to the police, and go to the hospital as soon as possible. This will help to provide documented proof of the extent of injuries. The police may ask you to sign a consent form to allow them access to your medical records.

Make sure you get the police officers number from his shoulder lapel, and the report number of the case.

In the case that the driver was found to be at fault, after taking the necessary details the police will sometimes give you two options (to send the driver a letter, or pursue a prosecution), though there is actually three options, as follows:

  • Advice letter, saying the incident occurred at the time and place, and that a complaint was made, and the complainant has chosen to take no further action. Then a piece of general advice to ‘drive carefully’.
  • Warning letter, which needs a statement taken at the police station (or a strongly worded letter) from the complainant, and then the driver is summoned to give a statement. If the police decide it is justified, this letter is quite serious and will quote the relevant law.
  • Prosecution, which does not necessarily involve the complainant at all, though statements will need to be taken at the police station.
Whichever option is taken, any actions have to be made by the police within 14 days. Note that it IS possible for prosecution to proceed if the victim/complainant is the only witness.

What happens then?

Within 14 days, you should receive a call from the police informing you of any actions taken, or if you are required to give a statement, this can be done in person at a nearby police station, or later in person at a police station of your choice, or even by post, using the correct format if you are familiar with it. You should include all the details you took down at the time of the incident, as above, and an example police statement is available.

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