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But for all road deaths, 60 percent of drivers convicted are sent down

The majority of drivers convicted of killing cyclists escape jail time, the BBC has found.

Fewer than one in five cycling fatalities led to a prosecution and of those drivers found guilty, only 44 percent went to jail; 26 percent were not even banned from driving.

Across all road deaths, however, around 60 percent of drivers found guilty of causing a fatality go to jail.

BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat  obtained the information via freedom of information requests to all 45 UK police forces.

In the last seven years 148 drivers were charged with offences arising from the death of a cyclist, according to Newsbeat. In that period, Department for Transport figures show that there were 804 cyclist fatalities.

The average sentence was less than two years, while the average length of driving ban was 22 months.

Activist groups have long campaigned for better outcomes for the families of cyclists killed on the road, who often feel that sentences are too lenient. But it seems the courts are not even imposing equivalent penalties compared to those levied against drivers who kill pedestrians or other car occupants.

“Our legal system doesn’t support fully enough the more vulnerable road user and it doesn’t reflect the responsibility people have when they drive a car,” said Chris Boardman, policy adviser for British Cycling.

“If you seriously injure someone or behave badly on the roads then I think we should see an awful lot more licences taken away, and I think that would very quickly improve behaviour.”

Rhia Weston, road safety campaigner with CTC, agrees that too few drivers are banned for killing cyclists.

She said: “We are more concerned that driving bans are given less often to motorists convicted of causing cyclists’ fatalities than for overall fatalities (74% according to the BBC figures compared to an average of 88% over the period 2007-2013).

“We would like to see much greater emphasis put on driving bans as a form of punishment and public protection measure.”

And Weston points out that the apparently more lenient treatment of drivers who kill cyclists may be more complex than some sort of judicial bias.

“It is harder to judge who is to blame in low-speed collisions, the kind that cyclists tend to be involved in,” she said.

“Collisions involving two or more motor vehicles tend to occur at much higher speeds and the circumstances of them make it much easier to decipher who is to blame.”

That could mean, Weston says, that drivers who kill cyclists are likely to be charged with the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving, rather than causing death by dangerous driving.

She said: “Drivers convicted of causing death by careless driving are more likely to be given a suspended sentence than those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. In 2013, 26% of drivers convicted of causing death by careless driving were given a suspended sentence, compared to only 3% of those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.”

Weston also said that modern motor vehicles are so safe for the occupants that “fatal collisions involving two or more motor vehicles tend to be the product of seriously bad driving,” which also pushes up the likelihood of fatal crash being caused by dangerous driving or driving under the influence of drink or drugs, and resulting in a jail sentence for the driver.

Perhaps unsurprisingly while agreeing with the CTC on the complex nature of some cases involving collisions between drivers and cyclists the AA do not believe that the courts are being unduly lenient. 

"The courts already have a wide range of sentences that they can give to drivers who kill cyclists, whether it's through careless or dangerous driving," Lorna Lee, a spokesperson for the AA told Newsbeat.

"The judge will look at all the different circumstances in that case before deciding what sentence to give."

According to the BBC report motoring groups think it would be wrong to demonise one type of road user and that it would be impossible just to increase penalties for offences against cyclists - raising the politically senstive spectre of the War on Motorists. Cycling groups may well argue that a war on those who kill people as a result of their own carelessness or recklessness has all the attributes of a just war.

 

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

20 comments

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Leodis [403 posts] 2 years ago
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AA  41

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Jonny_Trousers [270 posts] 2 years ago
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Yet more depressing evidence that the judiciary has some kind of secret belief that cyclists are partly to blame for getting themselves killed by being on the road in the first place. Sigh*

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pikeamus [48 posts] 2 years ago
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Wow. I'd love to see some more detail on the figures and some exploration of causal factors behind them. It does seem shockingly low, though to be fair the 60% figure for total road deaths seems too low as well.

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mrmo [2077 posts] 2 years ago
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So if you kill a driver or a passenger you are more likely to go to gaol than if you kill a cyclist.....

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Wolfshade [187 posts] 2 years ago
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But the AA seems to see nothing wrong with the more lenient treatment of drivers who kill cyclists.

The AA obviously don't see what the issue is of prvelidge and discrimination. I'm sure with that attitude Lorna Lee would not have a problem with being paid less than her male counter parts, after all who needs equal treatment.

Ridiculous.

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nuclear coffee [209 posts] 2 years ago
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Wolfshade wrote:

But the AA seems to see nothing wrong with the more lenient treatment of drivers who kill cyclists.

The AA obviously don't see what the issue is of prvelidge and discrimination. I'm sure with that attitude Lorna Lee would not have a problem with being paid less than her male counter parts, after all who needs equal treatment.

Ridiculous.

Do they? I can't find anywhere where they say that. The closest they say is "judges have the appropriate powers".

This is Daily Mail quality journalism with a cycling bent. It has the approximate value of cracked-helmet porn: unless you already totally agree, and you're just looking for vindication, it tells you nothing useful at all.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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Actually, the comments seem Faily Dail, while there's some useful info in the article for once.

What's discussed is actually quite complex legally.

Morally though, what should happen is the more vulnerable the injured party is, the more stringently the judging should be once guilt is proven.

However, proving guilt in complex, low speed collisions like in city driving is harder.

Driving bans all round though, for very long periods, would have a great inhibitory effect on everyday careless driving.

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 2 years ago
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Clear logical opinion from Chris Boardman again. Ban more people and more people will be more careful. It is that simple. Kill a cyclist or pedestrian? Banned.

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oldstrath [616 posts] 2 years ago
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nuclear coffee wrote:
Wolfshade wrote:

But the AA seems to see nothing wrong with the more lenient treatment of drivers who kill cyclists.

The AA obviously don't see what the issue is of prvelidge and discrimination. I'm sure with that attitude Lorna Lee would not have a problem with being paid less than her male counter parts, after all who needs equal treatment.

Ridiculous.

Do they? I can't find anywhere where they say that. The closest they say is "judges have the appropriate powers".

This is Daily Mail quality journalism with a cycling bent. It has the approximate value of cracked-helmet porn: unless you already totally agree, and you're just looking for vindication, it tells you nothing useful at all.

Apparently driving groups are opposed to 'demonising one group'. Whereas killing one group is fine? The problem is that neither the AA nor our legal professionals appear capable of understanding the simple proposition that motorists should take more responsibility, because their presence is what causes the danger.

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Mr Agreeable [172 posts] 2 years ago
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It's been known for years that people who kill at the wheel are treated more leniently than people who commit other criminal offences that result in death. This study is from 2007, and the only thing that's changed since is there are fewer police officers on our roads. http://www.jake-v.co.uk/content/cycling.php

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martib [63 posts] 2 years ago
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Wolfshade wrote:

But the AA seems to see nothing wrong with the more lenient treatment of drivers who kill cyclists.

The AA obviously don't see what the issue is of prvelidge and discrimination. I'm sure with that attitude Lorna Lee would not have a problem with being paid less than her male counter parts, after all who needs equal treatment.

Ridiculous.

Really given that Edmund King President of the AA is a keen cyclist and has been very supportive of cyclists on the roads and their safety!

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Das [242 posts] 2 years ago
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"and of those drivers found guilty, only 44 percent went to jail; 26 percent were not even banned from driving.

Words fail me. To be found guilty of Killing someone due to your reckless actions, not be sent to prison and not even receive a Driving Ban. Its the ultimate insult!!!!
Being found guilty of Killing a cyclist Has to carry a mandatory lifetime driving ban, no ifs, no buts, no maybes. When are people going to realize that a driving licence is a privilege, not a right, and that privilege needs revoking if your not capable of driving without going around killing someone.

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antigee [336 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

A 26-year-old who is being taken to court for knocking down a cyclist and who cannot be named for legal reasons, said it was wrong to penalise those who kill or injure a cyclist in what could be seen as unfortunate accidents.

"I don't think it's fair because I wasn't driving dangerously, I wasn't driving erratically," he said. "I just failed to see someone who was on the road."

As the AA spokesperson said the courts do have the powers but the attitude towards cyclists (and I suspect pedestrian) injuries and deaths needs to change - the young driver quoted above (from the referenced article) is typical of our culture that accepts the idea that being in the way of a vehicle means that "accidents" are a by product of vulnerable parties putting themselves deliberately at risk

Pleased to see a decent bit of journalism from the BBC

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oldstrath [616 posts] 2 years ago
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martib wrote:
Wolfshade wrote:

But the AA seems to see nothing wrong with the more lenient treatment of drivers who kill cyclists.

The AA obviously don't see what the issue is of prvelidge and discrimination. I'm sure with that attitude Lorna Lee would not have a problem with being paid less than her male counter parts, after all who needs equal treatment.

Ridiculous.

Really given that Edmund King President of the AA is a keen cyclist and has been very supportive of cyclists on the roads and their safety!

Words cost remarkably little. And as yet he has nothing except talk.

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levermonkey [664 posts] 2 years ago
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Words have power, therefore can we get something straight?

A 'Ban' is a curtailment of a 'right'. You can be banned from going into a town centre, going out after dark or owning a dog because normally there would be no restriction on these actions.

You DO NOT have a right to drive: You DO NOT have a right to hold a driving licence; this is a privilege and as such its removal is not a ban but a revocation!

This may seem like a minor point but it changes your mind-set. If a privilege has been revoked, you might not get it back. A Ban is like grounding a sulky teenager.

Try saying these two phrases and see which has the most impact.
"You are banned from driving!"
"Your licence is revoked!"

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brooksby [1280 posts] 2 years ago
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levermonkey wrote:

Try saying these two phrases and see which has the most impact.
"You are banned from driving!"
"Your licence is revoked!"

The problem being, that whichever way you say it, there appear to be a lot of people out there who do not have a valid driving licence and don't see that as stopping them driving. After all, they have no alternatives, do they? (see, that bloke in Bristol who killed the couple on a tandem).

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levermonkey [664 posts] 2 years ago
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brooksby wrote:
levermonkey wrote:

Try saying these two phrases and see which has the most impact.
"You are banned from driving!"
"Your licence is revoked!"

The problem being, that whichever way you say it, there appear to be a lot of people out there who do not have a valid driving licence and don't see that as stopping them driving. After all, they have no alternatives, do they? (see, that bloke in Bristol who killed the couple on a tandem).

I really wish that I could say you're wrong. But I can't! Unlicensed drivers are a menace to all.

The biggest problem is what happens to them if they are caught. They get the licence [that they don't have] endorsed. I assume the "no alternative" comment is sarcasm.

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Belaroo [44 posts] 2 years ago
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I agree on the revoking of licences. Not only that but to get the licence in the first place, that is set up as the minimum standard of driving and you should improve with practice.
In practice, a proportion of drivers instantly forget everything they've been taught and an alarming number of drivers wouldn't pass a test if asked to.
Once a licence has been revoked, it should automatically require a re-test and in many cases an extended re-test with a follow up test and there's the technology to put black boxes in their cars now too.
When someone is caught driving without a licence it should mean they will never get a licence without a black box that they them self have to pay for. Breach of these conditions should involve a custodial sentence; it's a lethal weapon.

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Belaroo [44 posts] 2 years ago
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Part of the problem is there are very few actual alternatives to driving, unless you live in a large town or city, public transport is as good as not there, and rural roads are mostly too dangerous for your average cyclist.
Driving has become a necessity and this is the root of all the problems, the justice system is in fairness to it, responding to the lack of alternative means.
The problem is that for those who are brave/foolish/hardy/sensible/too poor or pain just insistent on not driving, they fall outside of the system.
The infrastructure is so bad, not just for us cyclists but for all users, it's got a loose framework designed 99% for motorised vehicles and only then relies on drivers being experienced and well behaved, while the justice system then compensates by assuming human error. "Driving is oh so hard, poor person, they weren't expecting that silly cyclist to come crashing through their windscreen, oh poor driver."
It's like designing a lathe with no safety features, giving a one off safety talk and expecting the user to behave exactly like they did the first time they switched it on. Of course when you don't, you are judged as only human.
We all know that unless you factor out the human error as much as you can with the infrastructure - with segregation, proper speed restrictions, only then stricter licencing and harsher penalties for breaching the conditions of the licence, and actual realistic alternatives to car ownership, like integrated public transport, the deaths will continue.
They are doing this in Mainland Europe, they have a long way to go too, but they are 40 years ahead of where we are.

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Belaroo [44 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Part of the problem is there are very few actual alternatives to driving, unless you live in a large town or city, public transport is as good as not there, and rural roads are mostly too dangerous for your average cyclist.
Driving has become a necessity and this is the root of all the problems, the justice system is in fairness to it, responding to the lack of alternative means.
The problem is that for those who are brave/foolish/hardy/sensible/too poor or pain just insistent on not driving, they fall outside of the system.
The infrastructure is so bad, not just for us cyclists but for all users, it's got a loose framework designed 99% for motorised vehicles and only then relies on drivers being experienced and well behaved, while the justice system then compensates by assuming human error. "Driving is oh so hard, poor person, they weren't expecting that silly cyclist to come crashing through their windscreen, oh poor driver."
It's like designing a lathe with no safety features, giving a one off safety talk and expecting the user to behave exactly like they did the first time they switched it on. Of course when you don't, you are judged as only human.
We all know that unless you factor out the human error as much as you can with the infrastructure - with segregation, proper speed restrictions, only then stricter licencing and harsher penalties for breaching the conditions of the licence, and actual realistic alternatives to car ownership, like integrated public transport, the deaths will continue.
They are doing this in Mainland Europe, they have a long way to go too, but they are 40 years ahead of where we are.