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Monday, 27 October 2014

Drivers Correctly acquitted of causing death

In this story. two drivers, who hit the same cyclist and eventually killing him, have been acquitted of causing his death. One has been convicted of careless driving.

Basically both drivers were blinded by bright sun.

Driving instructions and the Highway Code are quite clear on this. If blinded, drivers should slow down and stop.

But this isn't realistic. See: Does the rule work?Bright lights, including the sun, are intermittent and at night, we are continuously being blinded by lemmings who think they must have headlamps on in well lit streets. See here. The conclusion is that if we took the rule literally, traffic would be at a standstill frequently all over the roads network. It would probably cause more accidents as, just in this case, the cyclist and first driver were stationary. We would end up killing more people, not just from that, but the economics of vital infrastructure frequently stationary too.

I know I will be accused of victim blaming here but how wrong are the cyclist's family to imagine that he was entirely blameless. He was riding into the sun too. Didn't it worry him that approaching drivers may not be able to see him? The problem with cyclists is that they refuse to accept that, in exposing themselves to big fast approaching machines operated by complete strangers of varying skill, they depend too much on their right to be there and their right not to be killed and injured and that is to ignore the obvious. Would this poor victim do this again given the chance? Are any cyclists to heed this warning or will they rail at me as the only person prepared to state the obvious?

Another aspect of this story should be heeded by drivers too. The first driver told police at the scene
At the scene, he told police: “I was coming up the hill and the sun was facing directly towards me.
“I couldn’t see anybody in the road until the last second. I basically heard a thud and saw something.
“I immediately braked and stopped and it was only when I got out of the car that I realised I had hit a cyclist. “I went over to talk to him, he was conscious and talking and leaning on his bike at the side of the road.”

The other told police 'he was doing between 30 and 40mph at the time of accident.' He added: “I started to slow down because of the car and because the sun was shining over the top of the hill. I had the sun visor down but it was still difficult to see.”
These comments made at the time of trauma and stress meant that they were rewarded for them by being sent for trial with a potential of 14 years imprisonment. Had they not made them, not only would they have saved themselves a lot of worry but possibly the cost to the community for their trials too.

Of course the police in this case may be able show that the sun was in the drivers' eyes at the time and that could have been put to them then or in the trial but no instant response is wise at the time. Let police do their investigations and then, if it's necessary for your interview, it can be done at a more appropriate time and with legal representation; even then, you are entitled not to make incriminating statements and responses.   

The best advice that I can give drivers under these terrible circumstances, is not to make such comments, even if arrested and without legal representation.

Don't believe that a failure to comment, under these dreadful circumstances, will be held against you. The courts are very fair places but it's far better to avoid putting the matter to the test isn't it?


  1. You're right mate, an unfettered right to go around killing people, that's what we need.

    1. A classic of an unhelpful sarcastic contribution that isn't even true, I do not suggest an 'unfettered right to go around killing'.

      You fail to address three serious points. 1) An unworkable rule, that is more dangerous than having none at all. 2) Road cycling is by definition dangerous, where the 'rights' simply don't work. And 3) The arrest and interrogation of drivers who are in the trauma of being in a terrible accident and their right not to comment under those circumstances.

      For you to be correct, I would be opposing their prosecutions in all circumstances and that isn't so. What I am against is drivers being treated worse than criminals and like enemies of society and unfairly that's all.

      It's comments like yours that prove that drivers definitely need protection. and their own Parliamentary Group too.

  2. I accuse you of victim blaming.

    You say the cyclist's family is wrong to imagine he was entirely blameless. But he was blameless. What exactly did he do wrong? According to you, relying on a "right to be there" and a "right not to be killed" are somehow to be criticised. Do you not have a right not to be killed?

    What if a driver "because they were blinded by the sun" (a large bright orb that has been setting regularly over the horizon for as long as I can remember) veered into oncoming traffic and killed a motorist coming the other way? Would you blame the other driver? He would have been knowingly driving towards traffic that was driving towards the sun. On your reasoning he should be criticised for that. Would he be mistaken in relying on his right to be there and right not to be killed?

    It seriously cannot be that in this day and age people do not know what to do when they drive towards the sun. If a person is driving along a road not really knowing what is ahead of them and they do not lower their speed sufficiently to be able to react to what is in front of them, then frankly they do not deserve a driver's licence.

    The phrase "I didn't see him" is an admission that they were not looking properly.

    1. Perhaps you are totally blinkered. Cyclists choose to place themselves in front of big essential moving machines in a way that wouldn't pass health & safety requirements or would be done if not road cycling. It's a mad scenario and it's about time politicians and courts accepted that reality. In this case, the cyclist ignored that his choice was made even more precarious by sunlight in driver's eyes. Society having allowed this mad scenario want's to jail people when it goes wrong?

      So fine, ignore my observations and continue to place your body in a dangerous place, but please acknowledge my right to point that out. It really makes no sense and it's about time the community, cyclists and politicians faced up to it.

    2. My journeys, by bike, are every bit as essential as yours, by car. The difference is I'm not externalising risk to others through my choice. Stop treating cyclists and motorists as opposing homogenous masses - they are not. We are individuals, accountable for our own actions - and each of the journeys made by car, bike or any other means may or may not be 'essential'.

      The cyclist did. nothing. wrong. And you are blaming him. That is victim blame - and it is loathesome. You argue that the cyclist ignored the risk factor - but he was endangering nobody. Tell me - with intermittend low sun, and the risk that entails, why is it okay to drive? Its NOT essential, the world isn't going to end if you're a little late.

    3. He did nothing wrong but he's dead? That don't seem like a very good choice of scenario to me. But I am not blaming him, except for placing faith in his rights, and in complete strangers with sun in their eyes. See my analagy of the rifle range and railway crossing.

      No your journeys are not essential by pushbike. They are a very limited, not fit for purpose it seems for 90% of the population, choice that you make. You will probably pack in cycling long before you pack in driving because one is essential and the other isn't.

      But avid cyclists are of opposing homogenous masses to drivers. They demand drivers have less space, obey cyclist's rules, more driver prosecution and jail. So yes I am totally pro driver and have every right to point out that road cycling is by definition anti driver. A driver liability and a driver obstruction too. How can unnecessary people in the road ever be in the interests of drivers? It's cyclists raising all these questions; not me.

      I am one of many millions of history's cyclists that cycles and gets on with it. I demand nothing from or of drivers. I know the risks and can pack it in when I like. When the sun is in my eyes on my bike I know I am taking a great risk and, perhaps that's the time to stop, get off, go to the other side of the road and walk. Why not? .

    4. "When the sun is in my eyes on my bike I know I am taking a great risk and, perhaps that's the time to stop, get off, go to the other side of the road and walk. Why not?"

      I see, so the cyclist has to stop riding when presented with low sun but drivers of, as you call them, "big essential moving machines" are permitted to blindly plough on (and into other road users) with impunity?

      Get someone else to read out to you what you've been writing, it's farcical.

    5. There you go. A classic of denying self protection for a totally exposed and vulnerable cyclist. I see. Drivers must stop but not cyclists for their own welfare? Is what you are proposing is it? Who said that 'drivers are permitted to blindly plough on with impunity' ? I didn't. You are reading what isn't there at all. Don't try to fib, it is easy to see it. Any chance of an honest debate from cyclists on this serious issue of cycling risks?

    6. You dismissed the HC advice to slow down and, if necessary, stop when dazzled by bright sun as being unrealistic, suggesting that following this advice would lead to more deaths not fewer. Implicit in that is the idea that the driver should not heed the HC advice and simply continue driving, as did the two drivers in your blog report. But just in case I have misunderstood you, tell me what you think a responsible driver should do when he can't see where he is going.

    7. A bad unworkable rule is often worse and more dangerous than none at all. This is only applied after accidents. Of course if the problem doesn't clear drivers will stop but in reality that never happens. To take this rule literally
      We would be slamming brakes on whenever the sun shines at us.

    8. You haven't told me what you think a responsible driver should do when he can't see where he is going.

    9. What part of: 'Of course if the problem doesn't clear drivers will stop' don't you understand? See the latest blog post on rule 93.

    10. Perhaps you could make yourself clearer by directly answering the question put to you. Are you now saying that a responsible driver should follow the HC advice to slow down and, if necessary, stop?

    11. I am clearly saying the rule is a bad one. It doesn't account for realism and realistic circumstances. On the road, a bad rule is worse and more dangerous than a none at all. In reality, drivers wouldn't continue to drive blinded so the rule is based on a no brainer.

      Be satisfied that your question has been considered carefully and resulted in a whole post dedicated to the rule.

      You may not be aware that I am a big critic of HC. and there is much about that on our site at I have decided to address some major failings as no-one has a monopoly on a safety code.

      I am not intending to play a silly semantics game on road safety just because of one individual's interrogation.

  3. Keith you completely avoided the question about the driver,so I will ask it again.
    If a driver is involved in a crash caused by the sun blinding another driver would the driver who was crashed into be as liable as the cyclist you described above? This isn't a cyxlist vs driver argument ,it's a question about yoir reasoning.

  4. It's not relevant since I disagree and say why, the cyclist wasn't without blame. So if you ran accross a live firing range and got shot, is there no blame attached to you? If you stand on a railway crossing with the sun at your back and got hit by a train are you blamless? That is a better analogy. Had you read the original blog I am merely saying the cyclist did contribute to his risk and therefor the placing his faith in unsafe rights that simply don't work.

    It's not for me to legislate but there has to be a question mark over unprotected humans mixing with big machines on the move. The only excuse is 'It's a right'. I am afraid that is simply not good enough.

    I can understand you not wanting the subject to be addressed and raised but if we are to talk about jailing people then it should be. So I am doing it in this free society. Is that Ok?

  5. Again you fail to address the question.
    If a car driver was injured by a vehicle crashing into them because the driver of the vehicle which crashed was blinded by the sun is the injured driver as liable as the cyclist? Everything but the mode of transport is the same.

    1. I ignored the question simply because it isn't relevant to the risks being taken by cyclists totally exposed to big machinery. You are failing to address the reality that we are all responsible for our own safety too and there is no blank cheque on that. The sooner cyclists and you, understand that, the less cyclists will be killed and injured. Stick to the blog points being made.

      You are arguing against the court and its jury here. Take that up with them.

    2. Your evasion of the question is based on the tacit premise that being in a car is inherently safe. It is not: people are injured and killed in cars frequently. There have been multiple cases where a driver has ploughed into stationary traffic and killed an occupant of a stationary car. The scenario is absolutely realistic and the question is absolutely relevant: Would you ascribe no blame in that situation?

    3. No I wouldn't but you are reversing the point I made. There is also an element of blame for the cyclist which was the point I have made and explained in full. It is also a fact that you stand far more chance surrounded by metal and generally moving at the same speed as other traffic. Surely you see that a cyclist is totally exposed and in the path of faster heavy moving machinery. Now please do keep denying that fact and accept the risk if you wish. It's your choice but don't deny me the right to keep warning people too.

    4. The consequences of a driver who does not reduce his speed, or stop if necessary, when blinded are not the fault (even partially) of any non-motorist victim he strikes who is acting lawfully. To suggest otherwise is quite perverse.

    5. It would be perverse if I had suggested it. The problem is that you are too concerned about trying to appear clever than address the reasons why these accidents really happen and why rule 93 is totally irrelevant and doesn't cover reality.

      'Acting lawfully' is exactly the point I have made in the first place. Depending on one's rights. Depending on a silly rule, doesn't absolve us from being wise. From not taking big risks. From not protecting ourselves. From placing ourselves in great danger. You are making the same mistake as his family did and I disagree with them for those reasons. Please do carry on taking the risks but don't try to criticise me for pointing them out. If it gets people thinking and saves lives whilst prosecuting less drivers too, what's wrong with that?

      Your only use in this is that you satisfy me that I haven't forgotten anything or failed to consider all aspects.

      I think all you really are is someone from the Driver is Always Wrong Brigade, or There is No Such Thing as Road Accidents Society so they must be jailed if someone dies from a very dangerous scenario that they have contributed to in some way..

      Thanks for your input.

  6. I'm not arguing with the court,I am pointing out your hypocrisy. If you say that the cyclist is to blame then a motorist in the same situation is equally culpable.
    Your comparison with a live firing range or railway crossing is invalid:both of these are highly regulated environments which are not part of journeys.
    You are entitled to your own beliefs but to establish any sort of credibility you need to apply the same resoning to all users. Have a quick google for drivers blinded by the sun and look at the fatalities to drivers and pedestrians:are all these victims also guilty of the reckless abandon of their safety which you describe?

    1. Don't be dishonest Mike; it's easily spotted. I don't say the cyclist was to blame but simply that he was not blameless as suggested by family. We are all responsible for our safety. Maybe you have been brought up in a blame culture where there is always blame on others. Please just stick to the case in this blog. Citing totally different scenarios is pointless and easily dismissed as irrelevant.'guilty of the reckless abandon of their safety which you describe?' Err except they're your words not mine at all. See how dishonest you are Mike?

  7. Here is such an incident, Bez.
    THE husband of a woman crushed by a lorry has pleaded with the driver to explain why his wife died.
    Robert Bulmer drove his HGV into Julie Watson's car as she waited at traffic lights on the A164, near Beverley.
    The judge dismissed claims Bulmer, 56, was blinded by the sun and said he was "away with the fairies".
    After Bulmer was given a suspended sentence, Mrs Watson's husband, John, said: "I would like Mr Bulmer to explain exactly what he was doing."As a family, we are absolutely devastated.
    "I would like to him to stand by Julie's graveside with us and explain what happened."
    Bulmer, who worked for lorry firm Eddie Stobart, ploughed into Mrs Watson's VW Beetle on May 23 last year at Jock's Lodge.
    He was charged with causing death by dangerous driving but his trial collapsed after police investigator Ian Charlton gave evidence.
    Mr Charlton originally claimed Bulmer had 24 seconds to react before the collision but later admitted he may have had fewer than seven seconds. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was forced to drop the charge of death by dangerous driving following Mr Charlton's revelations. The Honorary Recorder of Hull and the East Riding, Judge Michael Mettyear, questioned the CPS's decision to "overcharge" Bulmer, failing to accept his plea to causing death by careless driving last November. He said: "This is a tragedy in every sense and has been made worse by the long delay in finality.
    "I'm not here to criticise anyone. "This is a difficult case and difficult decisions had to be made but delays have been caused by the erroneous decision to overcharge. "It was, in my view, a case of causing death by careless driving from the outset.
    "He offered to plead to this and it should have been accepted by the Crown much, much earlier."

    Bulmer has been sentenced to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
    He was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work in the community and was banned from driving for two years.
    Judge Mettyear said: "There is no point in sending him to prison for such a short period – it wouldn't bring Mrs Watson back or do any good for society.

    "This is a tragic case. Julie Watson was a remarkable lady, she had already achieved a great deal in her 40 years of life.
    "The court's sympathy goes out to all who knew and loved her, especially to her family – theirs is a grievous loss.

    "She was in no way responsible for the collision that took her life. It was caused by the defendant failing to pay proper attention to what was going on in the road ahead.

    "The sun may have been bright and he may have reacted to it but it cannot fully explain this collision.
    "No one else claimed to have been affected by it in the way he did.

    "Her car was there to be seen by anyone properly concentrating. It is quite clear he didn't see it, only why he didn't see it remains a mystery.

    "Witnesses said he appeared to be away with the fairies."
    Hull Crown Court heard Bulmer has two convictions for speeding and one for failing to stop at a red light.

    Keith, maybe you should go round to the widower's house and tell him that his wife should not have mixed it with bigger, heavier and faster vehicles.

    1. As usual, completely missing the whole point and that I have never said the cyclist was totally to blame but that he wasn't blameless. This woman wasn't on a bike she was surrounded by metal. He chose his dangerous scenario of cycling unprotected in front of drivers driving into sun and made a bad choice is all that I have said. You wish to denty that to the danger of cyclists just to support a hobby. He is dead so his decision to cycle in those circumstances was a bad one wasn't it? We must be fairer to drivers. This is a driver's blog and site and drivers are bound to have accidents anyway without other humans adding to the hazards they have to deal with.

      It is irresponsible to deny how risky cycling is by definition and I cannot be accused of that but you can be.

  8. Wjatever the cyclists' physical exposure, a driver or pedestrian is exposed to the same level of risk from being crashed into by a driver (or,to be fair, a cyclist) blinded by the low sun and failing to take appropriate action to mitigate the risk. This is the point I'm making and you are studiously avoiding.

  9. No they are not. Pedestrians do not walk along a road, in the carriageway with their backs to faster oncoming traffic unless they are stupid, and car travel is essential, surrounded by metal, travelling with the traffic at the same speed. You are now denying that cycling isn't walking or travelling in a car to avoid facing realism.

    This cyclist chose to be exposed in the road with the sun in his eyes and thus the approaching drivers. You are pretending that I am saying that he was totally and wholely to blame and no one else was. I am simply arguing that he wasn't blameless in this and that the drivers were victims of a very dangerous scenario, partly set up by the cyclist. Until cyclists can accept that, then someone else is going to have to start doing it for them since their minds are so closed about their hobby.

    Ok Mike, I think you have had a fair wack to make your points now so we will let others see what they can make of it.

    Your input is very appreciated and useful. Thanks

  10. Keith is making the obvious point that cyclists know that they are more vulnerable in an accident than drivers yet they continue to road cycle, and therefore accept the increased risk. This incident is clearly a tragic accident, due to a sudden loss of visibility, and there should have been no attempt to prosecute the driver(s) involved.

  11. Paul,
    According to these ONS data, I am 10 times more likely to die in my car (1 in 698) than on my bike (1 in 6568) and yet I continue to drive my car, despite knowing the risk. I am also more likely to choke to death than to be one of the 100 or so people killed on a bicycle each year, but I am eating bread now despite knowing the risk.

    As for this case merely being an "accident", you might like to consider the judge's comments and the meaning behind them:

    "Judge Sloan told him: "The Highway Code makes clear at the very least
    you should have slowed, you should have braked at the moment you were
    dazzled by the sun but you didn't, you carried on as before."

    Still just an "accident"?

    1. Last point first. The Judge is citing a rule and one which I have gone great length to question as a vialble and realistic rule so I won't regurgitate that. The Judge? Is he a driver? At what level? An expert? Maybe after talking to me or reading this blog he may realise aspects that he didn't consider before.

      You miss the point. You have to eat, and people have to drive if not we all die. This isn't so with cycling. But the point I make for safety sake is road cycling is highly danngerous at the best of times and a cyclist has 15 times more chance of being killed per mile on the road than a driver has. Why argue? The cyclist chose to cycle into sunlight increasing his risk of being hit so he wasn't blameless. Given that day back again and another chance would he still do it? Of course not.

      Please explain how walkers are advised to walk against traffic where there's no footway but it's ok for cyclists to be with their backs to oncoming traffic and with sun in the eyse, riding in blind faith?

      Cyclists in trying to deny the obvious to protect their hobby from reality are totally irresponsible. Any chance of some honesty from you lot?