Showing posts from September 2016
West Midlands police is the first police force to specifically target drivers of motor vehicles who pass too closely to cyclists.
In future motorists could face prosecution for careless driving or dangerous driving if , when passing a cyclist on the road they go too close. The highway code specifies that when a motorist drives past a cyclist they should give at least the same space as when overtaking a car. The safe passing distance for a car overtaking a cyclist is generally regarded to be a minimum of 1.5 m. This allows for the cyclist falling off the bike as the motorist is passing.
I have defended in a number of motoring cases where a cyclist has been seriously injured or has died when they they have been hit by a motorist overtaking them and, at the same time they either wobbled or fell off the bike. In such cases a motorist who has travelled too close to the cyclist resulting in a fatality would almost certainly find themselves prosecuted for causing death by careless driving or causing death by dangerous driving.
Although initially most drivers will be given words of advice by the roadside, any motorist that the police decide has driven dangerously close to a cyclist will most likely face a prosecution for dangerous driving and taken to court.
Motorists should be aware that cyclists may need to avoid potholes, drain covers or other obstacles on the road and so give sufficient room when overtaking.
The statistics of car accidents involving cyclists resulting inserious injury or death are startling. Between 2010 and 2014 , 530 cyclists were either killed or seriously injured in the West Midlands police force area alone. The vast majority of those were accidents involving cars and cyclists.
Over the last few months the West Midlands police has brought prosecutions for careless or dangerous driving against 38 motorists who went too close to cyclists.
As with a large number of other motoring offences, the penalties to be imposed for using a mobile phone whilst driving are set to increase in the near future.
A recently published report by the RAC has discovered a rapid increase in the number of drivers using the mobile phone by way of talking, texting, Facebook and filming whilst driving a motor vehicle.
Scientific study has found that driving whilst using a mobile phone is as potentially dangerous as drink-driving with regard to the cause of fatal accidents.
The fines are set to increase but most importantly, the number of penalty points to be endorsed upon the driving licence will also increase.
For the driver of a car the points will increase from 3 to 4. If driving an HGV whilst using a mobile phone, the number of points will rise to 6. This will undoubtedly lead to a rapid rise in the number of drivers facing a possible six-month driving disqualification under the totting up provisions when the number of penalty points on the driving licence reaches 12.
The real risk is, however, that if a serious accident is caused whilst a motorist is using a mobile phone, they will not be prosecuted for the mobile phone offence but for careless or dangerous driving. Recently publicised cases involving fatalities caused by a driver whilst using the mobile phone have resulted in prosecutions for causing death by dangerous driving. As per my recent blog on this, the government is also planning to seriously increase the penalties for the offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death by dangerous driving.
Drivers who face a prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving
could face more onerous penalties by way of extended prison sentences if found guilty. This was following a recent sentence review announced by the Prime Minister.
The Ministry of Justice is reviewing the law in relation to causing death by dangerous driving and, in particular, the penalties to be handed out.
At the moment, the offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a minimum prison sentence of one year and disqualification from driving for at least two years. Following conviction of a motorist a court can hand out prison sentences of up to 14 years. It is unusual for such a lengthy prison sentence to be imposed. The average prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is just below five years. This has been steadily increasing over the last few years.
The proposed increase in penalties for causing death by dangerous driving demonstrates how essential it is to have a specialist traffic lawyer representing the motorist at court. This is a highly specialised and technical field. Given the potential outcomes, motorist would be well advised to seek the services of a specialist traffic defence lawyer. Any one time we have we are representing a number of motorists charged with the offence of causing death by dangerous driving
and are highly experienced in this field.
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