Home
Case likely to put spotlight on 'careless' versus 'dangerous' driving charges...

The driver of a lorry that last year crushed a cyclist who was riding a ‘Boris Bike’ in London, leaving him with serious injuries to his head, chest and pelvis, has been fined a total of £620 and banned from driving for six months. The case is likely to bring renewed attention on the decision to charge drivers with offences relating to careless, rather than dangerous, driving.

Anthony Farmer, aged 44 and from Dagenham, was fined £420 at Highbury Magistrates Court £420 and given nine penalty points for careless driving, and a separate £200 fine for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, reports the Camden New Journal.

According to a BBC report at the time of the incident in April 2013, which involved a male cyclist aged in his 20s who continues to receive medical treatment for his injuries, Farmer was originally arrested on suspicion of the more serious offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

That legislation creating that offence, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, came into force in May 2012 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

When the government confirmed in October 2011 that it planned to introduce the legislation, Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer at the road safety charity Brake said: “This new offence finally means that serious injury is recognised within the title of the offence, and this recognition is vitally important to victims and their families.

“It also means that dangerous drivers who inflict serious injuries can expect to see higher sentences to better reflect the terrible trauma and injuries they have caused.”

As far as we are aware, no-one has yet stood trial on the charge of causing serious injury through dangerous driving in a case in which a cyclist was the victim, although a milkman from Cumbria who allegdly knocked a rider off his bike will go on trial for the offence in April.

While it is unclear why the decision was made to charge Farmer with careless driving rather than causing serious injury by dangerous driving, the case is likely to lead to further calls for reform of the law and sentencing, and for the Crown Prosecution Service to press more serious charges where appropriate.

The charge of careless driving, or driving without due care and attention, is defined as “'driving below the standard expected of a reasonable and prudent driver in the circumstances.”

In dangerous driving offences, the prosecution must establish that the way the motorist was driving “falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.”

Following lobbying by British Cycling and national cyclists’ organisation CTC, among others, the government said in its response last October to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report that it has ordered a review of sentencing in cases where the victim is a vulnerable road user.

It also said it would examine the investigation and prosecution of cases in which vulnerable road users including cyclists are the victims, which CTC called for in its Road Justice campaign, launched in June last year.

Brake itself has called for careless driving offences to be abolished, saying: “’Careless’ is an inappropriate and offensive term to use for bad driving, particularly where it has resulted in horrendous suffering. Driving that is bad (especially if it has already resulted in injury or death or could easily have done so) is dangerous.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

22 comments

Avatar
VeNT [53 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

"at the time of the incident in April 2014, which involved a male cyclist"

quick! there's still time to warn him!

Avatar
Simon_MacMichael [2481 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Thanks VeNT, corrected

Avatar
FourMinuteSmiler [3 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Lorries and guns are both deadly weapons.

Would you get away with a fine if you were careless with a gun and shot someone?

Avatar
mikeprytherch [223 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

A mate of mine got banned for 12 months, fined £900 and had to do 120 hours community service for hitting a central light bollard in his car, he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

No injury's to him or anybody else, no other 3rd party involved, he wrote his car off and damaged the central light.

Of course he was lucky he walked away, he was also lucky that nobody else was involved and he fully accepts the blame and his stupidity and it shook him up, it was his first accident in 30 years of driving, he had no points and no convictions, car was insured, had an MOT and taxed.

Now lets say my friend deserved this punishment, then how come this lorry driver gets a lesser sentence, the law and the people who practice it are a bloody joke and they wonder why people have no faith any more.

Avatar
fret [37 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

That's a stupid analogy to make.
A gun is designed for one job only, a lorry is for many things, although it could be used as a deadly weapon. I dare say the driver in this instance was not using it deliberately as a "weapon" and was just careless as the ruling found

And, yes, I have been crushed by an articulated car transporter 30 years ago on a bike and it still hurts.

Avatar
Guyz2010 [304 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Amazing how the 'Individuals' running our courts seemingly hand out widely varying sentences.
I'm off of nick a car, with no insurance or MoT, drive in the city at 80mph knock over some street furniture then run over a cyclist, when I get caught I'll plead guilty and repent my sins and ask for a lenient sentence as I was depressed at the time and offer to do some 'community'. Oh I forgot I was stoned too.
What do you reckon....about 120 hours on the broom.

Avatar
IanW1968 [307 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

No doubt we are going to have 30 or 40 indignant comments as usual and if everyone seems to agrees it a disgrace.

So who's responsible for using driving without care and attention or careless driving, when it clearly is dangerous driving or assault?

Can we ask them to explain their decisions?

Avatar
Stumps [3464 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
IanW1968 wrote:

No doubt we are going to have 30 or 40 indignant comments as usual and if everyone seems to agrees it a disgrace.

So who's responsible for using driving without care and attention or careless driving, when it clearly is dangerous driving or assault?

Can we ask them to explain their decisions?

Simple answer its the CPS. But its the court bench who decide on the sentence.

As for getting them to explain their decision, dont hold your breath but when the court papers are released have a read through them and make up your own mind.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2762 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
mikeprytherch wrote:

A mate of mine got banned for 12 months, fined £900 and had to do 120 hours community service for hitting a central light bollard in his car, he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

No injury's to him or anybody else, no other 3rd party involved, he wrote his car off and damaged the central light.

Of course he was lucky he walked away, he was also lucky that nobody else was involved and he fully accepts the blame and his stupidity and it shook him up, it was his first accident in 30 years of driving, he had no points and no convictions, car was insured, had an MOT and taxed.

Now lets say my friend deserved this punishment, then how come this lorry driver gets a lesser sentence, the law and the people who practice it are a bloody joke and they wonder why people have no faith any more.

Damaging public property tho innit?

That's a proper crime.

Avatar
pants [237 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Hello Japan, this is London  20

Avatar
Quince [381 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

When tonnes of metal are being shifted about, I don't think 'carelessness' and 'dangerousness' can be treated as different things. Carelessly propelling a lethal amount of mass around a IS dangerous.

To have a law that somehow divides the two up does not reflect the real costs, and therefore does not effect further decisions or perceptions as it should.

Killing is killing, and everyone should be prevented from doing it. Not just the 'bad guys' who do it on purpose.

Avatar
seven [154 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

IMHO custodial sentences should be reserved for those cases where there was intent to do harm or such levels of recklessness/aggression were involved that the only possible outcome was going to be injury or death.

As for the rest: where harm has already been caused, the "careless driving" charge should not be an option (as Brake says, it is inappropriate and downright offensive) and get these berks off the road. Too many see the piloting of a huge lump of self-propelled machinery as a god given right rather than the privilege it is, and that attitude badly needs adjusting.

Avatar
tarquin_foxglove [148 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

That's a stupid analogy to make.
A gun is designed for one job only, a lorry is for many things, although it could be used as a deadly weapon

What about a dog? Take a large dog onto a street, "lose control" of it and it savages a member of the public causing life changing injuries. Would you only get a fine?

Avatar
oldstrath [758 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
tarquin_foxglove wrote:
Quote:

That's a stupid analogy to make.
A gun is designed for one job only, a lorry is for many things, although it could be used as a deadly weapon

What about a dog? Take a large dog onto a street, "lose control" of it and it savages a member of the public causing life changing injuries. Would you only get a fine?

But no one 'needs' a dog. We've constructed a society in which many people, particularly people who are likely to be lawyers, magistrates, judges; and indeed to do jury service; believe that motor vehicles are essential, and so fear any possibility of being deprived of theirs. So given any excuse they will minimise the charges and sentences, or let people off if at all possible, because 'there but for the grace of God...'.

Avatar
tarquin_foxglove [148 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
mikeprytherch wrote:

A mate of mine got banned for 12 months, fined £900 and had to do 120 hours community service for hitting a central light bollard in his car, he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

I fainted while walking, due to my GP thinking it was an epiletic fit and sending me for tests (which were negative) I lost my licence for six months. I think that is wholly appropriate.

Six months for causing an accident and an injury is a joke.

Avatar
Stumps [3464 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
tarquin_foxglove wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:

A mate of mine got banned for 12 months, fined £900 and had to do 120 hours community service for hitting a central light bollard in his car, he was found guilty of dangerous driving.

I fainted while walking, due to my GP thinking it was an epiletic fit and sending me for tests (which were negative) I lost my licence for six months. I think that is wholly appropriate.

Six months for causing an accident and an injury is a joke.

If it wasn't a fit how did you lose your licence, or was it another illness that's on the dvla list ?

Avatar
tourdelound [168 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Same old, same old.......

Avatar
tarquin_foxglove [148 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
stumps wrote:

If it wasn't a fit how did you lose your licence, or was it another illness that's on the dvla list ?

Nope, no fit just fainted, I'd felt faint prior to actually fainting and made a mistake in my description to my GP (who wasn't even my GP just a stand in while mine was on holiday) by using the Yogi Berra's comment "it was like déjà vu all over again" to describe the 2nd incident in which I actually fainted.

I didn't know but a patient using the term déjà vu is a red flag to GP's for the identification of undiagnosed epilepsy.

He sent me to a consultant to be investigated for epilepsy and the tests were negative but the fact that I'd fainted & then been investigated for epilepsy meant that the DVLA withdrew my licence for a six month period to see if I'd had any further incidents.

I was lucky the consultant wrote a letter of support to the DVLA otherwise it would have been 12.

Avatar
tarquin_foxglove [148 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
tarquin_foxglove wrote:

What about a dog? Take a large dog onto a street, "lose control" of it and it savages a member of the public causing life changing injuries. Would you only get a fine?

Answering my own question, the law allows for a fine up to £5000 and/or up to two years in prison.

So about the same as Careless Driving.

However the sentencing seems as pathetic as well...
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dog-owner-whose-japanese-akita-3011...
http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2014/01/19/dog-owner-sets-staffie-on-...

Avatar
levermonkey [681 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

OK! How about this,

A driver, cyclist etc. causes an accident and the result is damage to property, slight injury or injury then lets charge them with 'careless' driving, cycling etc. with the option of charging with 'dangerous' driving, cycling, etc.

However:

If the accident results in a 'Killed or Serious Injured' then lets charge them with an automatic 'dangerous' driving, cycling, etc. with no option of plea bargaining down to 'careless'.

I commend this idea to the house and look forward to your comments.

Avatar
MKultra [393 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

A majority of driving offences need taking off the books. The whole idea that "driving offences" some how are less serious than other criminal acts is a corrosive one. Assault, ABH, GBH, Manslaughter, Murder - these are all perfectly suitable offences to charge people with. Why does using your car as the weapon make it not a deliberate violent offence?. If I ran you over with a forklift truck because I was not paying attention I would be jailed for manslaughter. Why does that not apply if it's a car?

Avatar
FourMinuteSmiler [3 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Ah, that's nice, I join a new community and get called stupid on only my second posting, thanks.

All analogies break down, that's why analogous and identical are separate words, but the point is valid. Of course guns and lorries are different, but they can still be compared.

Users of each should be subject to the same standard of care.

Allowing something in your charge to kill another human being without outside interference is not careless, it's negligent.