Death by dangerous driving – a drivers perspective

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  • Death by dangerous driving – a drivers perspective
  • I was told this story recently by a close friend of the driver concerned. I think it illustrates how difficult achieving justice is.

    Long post but its a complex situation

    The driver was a professional driver – well trained and experienced with a good record. Travelling on a suburban road at 3.30 in winter heading west – so directly into the setting sun. Sober, not speeding, not on phone or distracted in any way, She made a right turn and hit a cyclist that she simply did not see. Experienced cyclist wearing reflective / dayglo kit and with lights. I know the road in question and it has groups of trees on it some overhanging the road. Presumably the cyclist was in a patch of shade and the driver simply did not see them in the glare.

    Cyclist gets a moderate head injury and other moderate bumps and bruises – nothing life threatening. Goes to hospital. 3 weeks later the cyclist has a complication – blood clot on the lung and dies. This is very unexpected he was improving.

    Driver is charged with death by dangerous driving ( might be reckless I am not sure) Suspended from work.

    This is two years ago.

    Driver is traumatised. Unable to return to work, loses job. Unable to pay for house, loses house. Is treated for PTSD from a consultant psychiatrist, on the verge of being sectioned. For two years has the risk of going to jail hanging over her. This is a middle-aged woman with no previous record.

    What is the fair punishment / sentence for her?

    She made a mistake that cost a cyclist a life. She was not drunk or speeding or anything else against the law

    It has had serious effects on her as well that will last the rest of her life

    Usually when these sorts of case are discussed on there there is a lot of kneejerk ” hangings too good for them” ” how to get away with murder – use a car to kill a cyclist”

    I thought this example was a useful way of illustrating that its not always so clear cut what justice is.

    This woman made a mistake and killed a cyclist. what is the appropriate sentence?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    what is the appropriate sentence

    answer is it depends which is why judges have discretion. In her case probably less than some joy rider who just didn’t give a stuff and has shown no remorse.

    🙄 surely she has to be tried and found guilty before sentancing

    Wont be found guilty.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    depends if she pleads guilty or not really andylaightscat.

    given what’s described of her mental state I do wonder if a guilty plea might be forthcoming (if only to spare herself the trial).

    might be interesting to see an impact statement from the victims (which is what the cyclist was, regardless of how the driver has reacted) family for balance…

    Death by careless driving would appear to have little defence? She hit a cyclist and they died. The cyclist did nothing wrong. Perhaps not reckless driving

    Sounds like she’s sentenced herself to be honest.

    Cases like this TeeJ, are the exception though. If she’d had decent legal representation and support, she may well have got through this.

    Recommended sentence there is community service then.

    Turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle is considered to be careless driving by the CPS, rather than dangerous. Therefore death by careless driving would be the relevant offence. Depending on when it happened, they might not be able to use it. Death by careless driving only became law in 2008 (the death of Jason MacIntyre in January 2008 happened shortly before it became law), anything prior can only be prosecuted as careless driving, for which there is no prison sentence.

    PeterPoddy
    Member

    I know a guy who killed a bloke when driving. It was late at night, dark and this bloke had had a few (I believe) and just stepped into the road in front if my mate from between parked cars. He killed him instantly I believe. He was not breaking any laws and the police were very understanding at the scene. Even the dead guys family said my mate was not to blame. It really affected my mate. He hates driving at night and especially past parked cars at night. He’s a good driver, IAM & ROSPA trained. These things happen. Just accidents. In the OPs case it was probably the drivers fault, but if it’s as clear cut as it sounds IMO the sentence should be lenient or none at all. It won’t do any good to sentence someone who’s already suffered for her mistake so much, and will continue to do so. Every case is different though

    nickf
    Member

    If the facts are as described, I’d expect (and hope) that she’d be acquitted. Bad things happen, and there’s a risk for all of us on the road.

    Did she hit the guy? Yes.

    Could she have avoided it? Not sure how.

    Could anyone have reasonably forseen that even if she was fully responsible for the accident, this would turn into a fatality? No.

    Dreadful, but it’s one of those genuine accidents which unfortunately happen. Short of going at 2mph everywhere, what else could this woman have done?

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Subscriber

    tis a good question, and one which i sometimes consider too from time to time. is prison really appropriate for law abiding citizens who have a momentary lapse in concentration? shouldnt prison be for people who are a danger to society? or need to be punished?

    in this case it looks like the womans mental state of mind is punishment enough, thats if she should even be punished. what was her crime? shes been charged with dangerous or reckless driving, but was she driving dangerously or recklessly? probably not.

    someone died, so its natural for that persons family to want to see ‘justice’ done, but whats justice? :-/ are they going to put a price on that persons life? if the woman got 5 years in prison, im sure some people would be saying “5 years?? for my mothers/fathers/sons life??” etc etc

    so……can it be put down to ‘just an accident’? or is someone always to blame and needs punishing?

    toughie :-/

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    I like Peter Poddy’s example, insofar as it leads to the suggestion that no charge is in order. Morally, if not legally, there must be provision for a blameless accident.

    IMO someone is always to blame. No such thing as an accident with motor vehicles In PPs case the pedestrian was to blame.

    In my example the driver was to blame it would appear. .

    mildred
    Member

    For reasons decribed above, the offence of Death by Due Care was introduced.

    Tragic, though it is, that someone has died is not in itself evidence of dangerous driving. However, it would suggest that at the very least there has been a momentary lapse in attention. That said, there would still need to be evidence for the CPS to agree the charge; this is a lot harder than you’d think, and one reason the Police refer to them as the Criminal Protection Service. I am told that the probability of a succesful prosecution needs to be >80% for the CPS to continue a case.

    I was told this story recently by a close friend of the driver concerned. I think it illustrates how difficult achieving justice is.

    TJ, to be fair, I would’ve thought you would have been slightly less naive than this. Its hardly unbiased opinion here, is it? Also, has the driver told the close friend everything that she has said in the Police interview, or for reasons of shame, embarrasment, the need not to be judged too harshly by friends, has she been economic with the whole story? if she’s been charged there HAS to be evidence of the offence.

    She made a right turn and hit a cyclist that she simply did not see. Experienced cyclist wearing reflective / dayglo kit and with lights. I know the road in question and it has groups of trees on it some overhanging the road. Presumably the cyclist was in a patch of shade and the driver simply did not see them in the glare

    If you cannot be certain what is in your path, do you drive into that area anyway? This, perhaps, undermines her “professional” driver status (taxi drivers are professional drivers – are they good drivers?).

    It has had serious effects on her as well that will last the rest of her life

    And the family of the deceased?

    Premier Icon firestarter
    Subscriber

    On the other hand cyclist riding home wearing reflective gear was knocked down and killed after a car driver turned into them as they didn’t check properly.

    Family gutted as driver gets off as she claims she didn’t see and gets a bit upset by it all

    its all about where you look at it from

    nickf
    Member

    TJ, if anyone’s to blame it must be her, agreed, but do you think the charge she faces is appropriate? I don’t, and as such I expect her to be acquitted.

    uplink
    Member

    If you cannot be certain what is in your path, do you drive into that area anyway?

    I’m guessing she was certain, mistaken but certain in her mind

    mildred – Member

    “I was told this story recently by a close friend of the driver concerned. I think it illustrates how difficult achieving justice is.”

    TJ, to be fair, I would’ve thought you would have been slightly less naive than this. Its hardly unbiased opinion here, is it?

    I am not being naive – of course it is not an unbiased opinion which is why I put my source for the information right at the beginning of the post – so people could make their own mind up about the reliability of the info.

    Is the hospital not responsible in allowing the blood clot to happen? Was there negligence on their part?

    Firestarter – indeed.

    I thought this interesting aspect for discussion given previous discussions on this on here that called for long jail time for car drivers who kill.

    CharlieMungus – Member

    Is the hospital not responsible in allowing the blood clot to happen? Was there negligence on their part?

    Thats an interesting point that had occurred to me. I don’t know enough to really have an opinion on that but the cyclist did not die from his injuries directly – he died from a possibly preventable rare complication.

    Its just another complexity in the case.

    Grimy
    Member

    Could she have avoided it? Not sure how

    I’m not condemning the driver, accidents do happen and retrospect is not a luxury we have in the heat on the moment, but if she couldn’t see properly because of the glare, perhaps she should have waited a little longer and adjusted her visor or something until she was sure the road was clear? Was she in a position that forced her to make the manover quickly without checking properly it was safe? Complacency and lazziness probably had more to do with it, and she probably knows it, hence the breakdown.

    Its natural to analyze accindents and ask what/who was to blame what could have been done to stop it. We can only learn from mistakes, and a guys life is an expensive mistake not to learn from.

    My deepest sympathies with both partys.

    mildred
    Member

    I think it illustrates how difficult achieving justice is

    But it doesn’t really does it?

    Judging by your post the case hasn’t been heard yet, so how can this be judged (no pun intended)?

    jonb
    Member

    I’d be concerned that she drove somewhere that she couldn’t see was clear. If here vision was impaired by circumstance then she should have been going slower. This is the kind of situation that would need a full investigation to come to a conclusion on though. Very complex.

    As I understand it the main reasons for sentences are for punishment, rehabilitation and deterent. She probably is suffering (relatively, she’s alive and not lost a family member so she came off better out of the incident than most others involved), rehabilitation – I’d like to see it so that anyone involved in this kind of test has to resit the driving test before they are allowed there licence back just as a precaution. Deterent – it would seem the fear of killing someone doesn’t make drivers think about what they are doing…

    Premier Icon cb
    Subscriber

    Taking the elements of your description as the “facts” one would have to conclude that she was “at fault”. Whether that fault constituted ‘reckless’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘careless’ is another matter. IMHO ‘just not seeing someone’ is not an excuse but as a driver I appreciate that these things can happen i.e. mistakes without malice.

    I do not know enough about the legal system – is it possible that she could be found guilty of a lesser offence if acquitted of the more serious one? Or would the CPS have to charge for both?

    Pretty sure admission of blame, previous good record, evidence of trying to better her driving skills (qualifications that you mentioned) and no conflicting accounts from witnesses would all help in mitigation.

    The real scandal lays in the comparison between her and a drunk overtaking on a blind bend and killing a cyclist. Even if she avoids custody (which sounds likely), the drunk will probably only serve a few years (an ex tenant of mine killed an old boy on a motorcycle, did a runner and was on bail for drink driving/driving whist banned at the time – he got 8 years!). I guess that’s your point in a roundabout way?

    mogrim
    Member

    No such thing as an accident with motor vehicles

    Rubbish – I was in an accident in my father-in-law’s car, the brakes failed as we tried to stop at a junction and we hit the car in front that was waiting at the lights. His car had been serviced just over a month previously, but the car was an old one. Fortunately there were no serious consequences, a bit of bruising, the car was a write-off, but if someone had been crossing at that moment: who knows?

    In this case to my mind TJ’s friend is clearly at fault: if you can’t see where you’re going due to glare you should be driving at 10mph, and I find it hard to believe that driving at that speed would cause sufficient injury to lead (albeit indirectly) to death.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    If there was sufficient glare to cause doubt as to what was in the road in front of her, then carrying on at normal speed was reckless/careless and the incident was foreseeable/avoidable. Driving when not able to see what is in your path is not clever whether it is glare, texting, finding a CD in the glovebox, whatever. If prison is what lawmakers have decided on for that, I’m happy with that.

    I came very close to driving straight into a cyclist a couple of weeks ago. Dark drizzly night, cyclist pulled out from left he was hugging the kerb and then popped out round a parked car, dark bike, dark trousers, black hoodie pulled up, no lights, no reflectors. I had no clue he was there until I just missed him. I was giving the parked cars a door width of room, but he was coming out further. I’d have been in bits if I’d hit him, but I genuinely don’t see how I could have avoided it.

    As for these so called victim statements. Why should someone with an articulate family be treated differently to someone who was killed without leaving relatives or friends to speak about them in court? I thought we were all meant to be treated equally under the law.

    mogrim

    Fair enough – mechanical failure in a well serviced car is perhpas one of the very few accidents with no one at fault – although I would be interested to know if the brake failure could have been avoided.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    Oops, repost.

    mogrim
    Member

    Fair enough – mechanical failure in a well serviced car is perhpas one of the very few accidents with no one at fault – although I would be interested to know if the brake failure could have been avoided.

    One for the record books: TJ admits he was wrong!!! 😀

    Can’t think of anyway it could have been avoided, a normal service won’t check every single bolt and hose on a car, and a brake hose could quite possibly be internally defective without any kind of external evidence.

    Torminalis
    Member

    We are not punished for our sins, we are punished by them.

    uplink
    Member

    Fair enough – mechanical failure in a well serviced car is perhpas one of the very few accidents with no one at fault

    There’s plenty

    One round here last Winter when a tree blew down onto the road hitting a car, which was then pushed into a pedestrian – who unfortunately died

    muddy_bum
    Member

    Fair enough – mechanical failure in a well serviced car is perhpas one of the very few accidents with no one at fault – although I would be interested to know if the brake failure could have been avoided.

    Perhaps the mechanic who did the service could be found to be at fault although “service” could mean anything and may not include checking the brake hoses. Still they are guilty of driving an unroadworthy vehicle and there is no defense.

    In the original post I would predict dangerous reduced to careless if the driver pleads guilty and a lenient sentence due to the trauma already caused.

    I don’t think glare played a part. It says she was driving west, then turned right, so heading and presumably, looking, north and not into the sun when she hit the cyclist

    bluebird
    Member

    If the story is accurate I’d have to agree with CharlieMungus.

    The driver made a mistake, knocked a cyclist off and caused minor injuries but they didn’t kill the cyclist.

    Charlie – its more detail than I have. I thought the glare probably was the reason why she did not see the cyclist but its more detail than I have exactly what the positions were, direction of the sun and so on.

    When the incident was described to me my immediate reaction was “glare” when driving into the sun the glare covers a fair amount of arc does it not?

    downgrade
    Member

    If you cannot be certain what is in your path, do you drive into that area anyway?

    This, pretty much is my first reaction. To use a ridiculously overblown comparison, you wouldn’t stand in the street with your eyes closed and fire a gun, thinking it’ll probably be ok because you can’t see anyone in the line of fire.

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    One of the most shocking things about this for all involved is that it happened two years ago and is still moving through the court system. Whatever the wrongs and rights of the original incident our incredibly labour judicial systems has made it much worse for all the victims including the driver.

    For the record she sounds like she was at fault but there do appear to mitigating circumstances to some degree. The best outcome would have been a swift trial, lenient sentance (based on what’s been said) and everyone moves on with their lives.

    On a different note I came within inches of hitting a pedestrian a couple of weeks ago. It was dark, car coming towards me up hill, lights pretty much blinded me (they may or may not have been out of alignment). The road in question is up on the moors a good few miles from anywhere so there was no reasonable expectation of a pedestrian being there. The pedestrian was wearing black from head to toe. I only realised they were there as they came level with the passenger side window. If I’d been a few inches closer into the kerb I would have hit them, pure luck I didn’t. I couldn’t see the person, had no reason to expect to see the person, should I have been doing 10 miles an hour on a straight full width country lane just in case?

    If the cyclist was in a “correct” position on the road and was stationary when hit, it must be the driver’s fault whatever mitigating circumstances.

    As for the crime, presumably if the cyclist had recovered normally from his relatively minor injuries it would have been a simple case of careless driving. I can’t see how death from secondary medical complication, which may have been pure coincidence, the hospital’s fault or a pre-existing condition, 3 weeks later after apparently normal recovery can turn careless driving into death by careless driving

    What’s the difference between ‘driving without due care and attention’ and ‘causing death by careless driving’?
    The answer is ‘very little’ just that in one there was someone unfortunate enough to get in the way. In motoring offences like these drivers are being judged on the consequences of their actions not the actions themselves. It’s arguable that anyone who jumps a red light, goes round a corner too fast etc etc should receive a jail term measured in years but it wouldn’t be at all popular or manageable.

    DrJ
    Member

    Maybe part of the problem is that UK drivers are not in the habit of looking for cyclists? I hazard the guess that this sort of accident is very rare in a country like Holland where drivers look for cyclists ALL the time (except for the occasional knob, obviously). It just becomes a habit, which this lady maybe did not have?

    cynic-al
    Member

    Seems to me we would need more detail on how visible the cyclist was at the accident – the court would or at least should examine this in detail.

    May not be more clear cut than the OP suggests.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    If you hit something you didn’t see, you were going too fast for your brain to process the visual information.

    Dark spots under overhanging trees etc are the sort of place an experienced driver should expect there to be something not immediately visible.

    For sure we do not have enough info to be certain. Thats what courts are for and I will be looking for the outcome of the case. All the info I have I have given but the basic facts are that the driver did not see a cyclist and drove into them while making a manoeuvre

    I just thought on the basis of the info I had it was interesting to discuss

    As for the injuries – seems to be some confusion – the guy had a moderate head injury – required ITU but he was expected to recover and was improving but still in hospital tho out of ITU when the blood clot killed him. Its a complication of this sort of thing that might be preventable.

    Teh death was from a secondary complication of the original injury.

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