Home
Theresa May says Department for Transport will look at issue in wake of Charlie Alliston case

Theresa May has been urged today at Prime Minister's Questions to make extend the law on dangerous driving to include cyclists.

The appeal followed the conviction last month of Charlie Alliston, aged 20, for causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving in connection with the death of Kim Briggs in February last year.

Mrs Briggs, 41, had been crossing London's Old Street when she was in a collision with Alliston, sustaining fatal head injuries.The cyclist had been riding a fixed wheel bike with no front brake, meaning it was not legal for use on the road.

Heidi Alexander, the Labour MP for Lewisham East, the constituency Mrs Briggs lived in, asked the Prime Minister: "Does she agree that the law on dangerous driving should be extended to included offences by cyclists and that the 1861 offence of wanton and furious driving, on which the prosecution had to rely in this case, is hopelessly outdated and wholly inadequate?"

Mrs May said that Ms Alexander had "raised an important issue. We should welcome the fact that the prosecution team were able to find legislation under which they were able to take a prosecution, but she makes a general point about ensuring that our legislation keeps up to date with developments, and I am sure that the Secretary of State for Transport will look at the issue," she added.

An Old Bailey jury cleared Alliston of manslaughter but found him guilty of the wanton and furious driving charge.

The offence, which falls under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment.

Alliston, from Bermondsey, has been told he could face prison when he is sentenced later this month.

After the cyclist was convicted, Matthew Briggs, the victim's husband, called for the Road Traffic Act to be updated so that cyclists would be subject to similar laws as motorists.

> Husband of woman killed by cyclist calls for changes to law on dangerous cycling

Following the jury's  verdicts, Duncan Dollimore, head of advocacy and campaigns at Cycling UK, predicted tThose hat their would be calls for  “laws on irresponsible cycling should be aligned with the laws on irresponsible driving,” but said that legislation needed to be updated for all road users.

"The fact that he has been convicted of an offence dating back to legislation from 1861, drafted in archaic language, will doubtless lead some to argue that the laws on irresponsible cycling should be aligned with the laws on irresponsible driving," he said.

"The reality is that the way in which the justice system deals with mistakes, carelessness, recklessness and deliberately dangerous behaviour by all road users has long been in need of review.

"In 2014 the Government acknowledged this when announcing a full review of all motoring offences and penalties, but then waited three years to launch a limited consultation last year which closed six months ago, with silence ever since.

He added: "To ensure that there is consistency with charging decisions, and with how dangerous behaviour on or roads is dealt with, it is vital that the Government ends the delay, and gets on with the wide scale review that politicians from all sides, victims' families and various roads safety organisations have tirelessly demanded.”

The charge of causing death by careless driving, which has a maximum penalty of five years, may be brought in cases where the standard of driving "fell below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver."

The more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving, punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment, is brought when the standard of driving "fell far below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver."

Those and other offences relating to motorists fall under the Road Traffic Act 1988, as amended by subsequent legislation.

 

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.