Motoring menace leaving pedestrians soaked through

Spash complaints
Spash complaints
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SCORES of sopping-wet pedestrians have complained to police after being splashed when motorists drove through puddles, figures show.

Police forces across England have revealed upset walkers contacted officers accusing drivers of swerving deliberately into standing water.

Some said they were deliberately targeted, while others said police officers were among the perpetrators.

Several motorists were tracked down and given driving advice, while a handful of others could not be traced.

Splashing falls under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and can often be punished through a fixed penalty notice. Details of those investigated for splashing were released by police forces under the Freedom of Information Act.

They showed there were 63 reported incidents of motorists driving through a puddle and causing pedestrians to be splashed during a five-year period from January 2009, according to the six police forces with details on splashing.

South Wales Police said there were 38 cases of splashing reported, with victims as young as 10.

One complainant said a bus driver accelerated to soak pedestrians, while a police officer was forced to apologise after driving a 4x4 through standing water.

The force said a van driver was handed a ticket for a public order offence after driving “back and forth through a large puddle to intentionally splash pedestrians”, while another was spoken to by officers after deliberately driving through a puddle to splash a walker before laughing with a passenger.

One unlucky resident said they were soaked “at least five times” by drivers speeding through puddles in one particular road.

Another complained that a police officer “swerved into a puddle on purpose” to soak him.

And one concerned eyewitness reported how a “young male driver was swerving all along driving into puddles on purpose to splash school children walking home”.

Mike Frisby, the Driving Instructors Association chief examiner, said: “Motorists have a duty of care not to splash pedestrians. Normally the maximum penalty would be to get somebody’s clothes dry cleaned - it’s not imprisonable - but splashing can be easily avoided.

“It’s probably not widely known by pedestrians that they can report incidents if they’re splashed, but we don’t really want to engage in a culture where people are going to report every little incident.

“The driver has an obligation to plan well, as there is always a danger when driving through a puddle because even in shallow water drivers won’t know what lurks beneath.”

A spokesman for campaigners Pedestrian Liberation said: “We frequently hear stories from pedestrians who have been splashed, from pedestrians who have to take avoiding action so as not be splashed, and also of councils that show precious little interest in sorting out the dips in the road and blocked drains that are the source of the puddles in the first place.”