Court hears how cyclist killed as driver searched for sat-nav

Motorist admits he was careless, but prosecution pushing for dangerous driving conviction

by Simon_MacMichael   June 20, 2011  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A court has been told how a cyclist riding from John O’Groats to Land’s End was killed when a driver bent down to pick up a satellite navigation device that had fallen from his car’s windscreen.

The cyclist, 37-year-old Arthur Platt from Lyndhurst, Hampshire, a shift manager at Totton Health and Leisure Centre, died from the injuries he received in the incident in Telford, Shropshire last July despite being taken to hospital by air ambulance.

The driver of the car, Stuart Cook, aged 47 and from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, denises causing Mr Platt’s death by dangerous driving, reports the Shropshire Star.

However, Samantha Crabbe, speaking for the prosecution, told Shrewsbury Crown Court that the accident had been caused by the defendant being distracted as he looked for his sat-nav device.

Ms Crabbe explained that the fatal accident had taken place at around 1pm on 6 July 2010 as Mr Platt, who was raising money for the charity Help For Herores, rode his bike on the A442 Queensway.

“At the same time Cook was driving a BMW southbound on the road,” she continued, saying that the motorist was on his way home from a meeting.

“Cook became distracted by his ‘sat nav’ which had fallen from his windscreen into the passenger side foot well,” she claimed.

“He bent down, taking his left hand off the steering wheel to retrieve it, the car veered to the left and collided straight into the back of Mr Platt’s bicycle.”

She added that the prosecution would seek to show that the driver not only leant down to pick up the sat-nav device, but went on to check that the screen was lit up.

She added that although Cook had pleaded guilty to driving carelessly, “The prosecution maintain his actions were not just careless but dangerous.

“It was only at the point of impact that Cook looked up. That level of inattention and loss of control of his vehicle makes him, we say, guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.”

The Shropshire Star reported that Cook had informed police that he had removed his eyes from the road for just two or three seconds, although he said to another driver at the accident scene that he had lowered his eyes only for one second.

The case continues.
 

21 user comments

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What a terrible waste of a good man trying to help others.

Sean

posted by seanieh66 [193 posts]
21st June 2011 - 1:17

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don't care what they convict him of as long has he's not allowed in the driving seat for a long time

posted by a.jumper [679 posts]
21st June 2011 - 6:40

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When sat navs first appeared, it was one of the most obvious things in the world that they would be a detriment to road safety. Yet it was also obvious that they would make a metric shitload of money for the owners of sat nav companies, car accessory retailers, and ultimately the tax man. So guess which desire won out? The death of Mr. Platt is, I'm sorry to say, an acceptable loss to the global markets. Mr. Cook, meanwhile, is just an idiot, so slavishly dependent on his gizmos that he'll risk other people's lives to stop it getting scratched up in the passenger side foot well.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
21st June 2011 - 8:12

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In Japan satnavs can only be set or adjusted when the engine is switched off. If they can do that in Japan, why not here?

posted by charlie_lcc [5 posts]
21st June 2011 - 8:31

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He claims to have taken his eyes off the road for 1 second. That's 30 yards at 60 mph or 15 yards at 30mph. Which means either that he can't see other road users just a few yards ahead, or he did see the cyclist and decided this was a good time to dig in the footwell. There's no third option.

Whichever of those is the case, clearly he's incapable of driving safely and shouldn't be allowed onto the road.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [363 posts]
21st June 2011 - 8:55

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I note that the driver was in a BMW. I don't think that's a coincidence. I did see a piece on the Daily Telegraph's motoring section about the UK's 'unluckiets' cars which have a disproportionately high number of insurance claims. There weren't any BMWs but the Volvo XC90 was in at no2 - about 15% of the XC90s on UK roads have been involved in an accident and had an insurance claim.

I've got a satnav and it has fallen off its holder before now while I've been at the wheel. I find it's not so hard to stick it back in waiting at traffic lights or pulling over to the side of the road.

It's worth noting that when car radios were first launched in the 1930s there was some resistance with people claiming they would affect safety and allow drivers to be distracted. Who now questions fitting a stereo to a car? And yet how many accidents have occurred when someone has reached for a cassette or CD or to change radio stations?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
21st June 2011 - 9:46

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the odds are in favour of the motorist getting off lightly, unfotunately not good odds for cyclists.

antonio

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posted by antonio [923 posts]
21st June 2011 - 10:07

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Why are motorists so dependent on their stupid Sat Navs? Can't they remember the route to drive to Sainsburys? There was a story on the BBC yesterday that tourists were frequently driving their cars into the North Sea because their satnavs told them to - and they did.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-13830017

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
21st June 2011 - 10:15

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"I note that the driver was in a BMW. I don't think that's a coincidence. I did see a piece on the Daily Telegraph's motoring section about the UK's 'unluckiets' cars which have a disproportionately high number of insurance claims. There weren't any BMWs"

And your point is what? That you're prejudiced against BMWs?

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [363 posts]
21st June 2011 - 10:52

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Bez - I nearly got squeezed off the road by a driver in a BMW this morning. If I'd been on my bicycle I would've been in real trouble, luckily I was on my motorbike this time and was able to accelerate away. Lots of people drive cars poorly but BMW drivers seem to be involved in a disproportionately high number of incidents and this is the case whether I'm on one of my bicycles, my motorbike or in my car.

Look at some of the other comments in various threads on this website that refer to BMWs. I'm not the only one saying how many bad BMW drivers there are in particular - looks like the majority of people posting on the site have had run-ins with BMWs at some point in fact.

Yes I'm predjudiced against BMWs but that's been arrived at through my experience of how these cars are driven and the large numbers of muppets who own them.

Some years ago I was even offered a free BMW by a family member (an old 3 series) - I turned it down largely because I didn't want to be seen as a BMW driver - better no car than a BMW.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
21st June 2011 - 11:16

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The make of car and the item involved are irrelevant.

What's more important is how anyone, in their right mind, can claim that reaching down into the footwell of a car whilst they are driving it is merely 'careless' and not dangerous.

It should be obvious to any careful, competent driver that an act like this is blatantly, inexcusably dangerous. It appears the CPS agree and they should be praised and supported for pressing for a more serious charge.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
21st June 2011 - 11:35

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Is the make of car unimportant? Does experience not suggest that certain makes of vehicles appeal to drivers who are more likely to carry out risk taking behaviour or have lower awareness for other road users?

Discuss.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
21st June 2011 - 11:58

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OldRidgeback wrote:
Is the make of car unimportant? Does experience not suggest that certain makes of vehicles appeal to drivers who are more likely to carry out risk taking behaviour or have lower awareness for other road users?

Discuss.

without any facts / stats it's a meaningless discussion. The assertion that BMW drivers are inherently worse than others is akin to an urban myth, whether it's true or whether you believe it or not, the suggestion is already planted in your head and it will colour your perception.

This mornings worst driving offenders for me were a fiat punto, a renault clio and a ford mondeo. Put a twat in a car and they'll drive badly regardless of the marque.

On topic - dreadful shame but from the number of people I see texting, iPhumbling and generally not paying attention to the road it is sadly to be expected.

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posted by joemmo [768 posts]
21st June 2011 - 12:46

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But IME twats are more drawn to owning BMWs.

IIRC a woman driver used 'a spider scared me' as an excuse for killing a cyclist. Will any old lame excuse get these people off the hook? Looks that way to me.

posted by headfirst [81 posts]
21st June 2011 - 13:59

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I hope the prosecution asks this jerk why he didn't pull over to pick up and fix his sat-nav. With all this discussion about exactly how long his eyes are off the road, they're neglecting that he really should have pulled over in the first place.

I find that people adjusting iPods is equally dangerous. Since the newer ones have touch screens with buttons you can't "feel" any more, you have to look down at the screen to change a song. I've seen far, far too many people doing this in their cars.

posted by rcs500 [60 posts]
21st June 2011 - 15:20

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just went and sat in my car (a vw golf btw ...) and tried
to reach into the passenger foot well whilst sat in the
drivers seat .... now, either i'm an odd shape or he has
bloody long arms. I was completely unable to even reach
the mat let alone pick up something rolling around in
the foot well (I tried a compact camera) without lying so
far over the gear lever was in my ribs ....

Took his eye off the road for a second .... a complete
crock !

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [664 posts]
21st June 2011 - 20:19

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Does it really matter as to what make of car the murderer drove, what needless piece of electronic junk the murderer claims fell into the footwell or whether the murderer can see beyond the end of his bonnet.
The grim reality here is that another cyclist has been murdered on the roads of Britain and another murderer will be incarcerated for the crime, sorry, that should be fined £250 and told to pay more attention next time in case he might hit a car.

WillieGTF

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posted by williegtf [14 posts]
21st June 2011 - 20:49

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BMW's, or more to the point, their drivers seem to be making quite a stir on these news comments

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
21st June 2011 - 23:05

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As it was pointed out in an earlier news item, it's a certain type of person who will own and drive a BMW, oddly it's a 47 year old man driving a BMW that has caused some controversy in an earlier thread. He or she will have an office or a sales type career, possibly spending hours on the road. I noted that "the motorist was on his way home from a meeting", so suggesting he has this very type of job. Lets assume he was late, forgetting where he was headed as he raced, not to miss his client. BMW's are suitcase shaped to match the cases carried by their drivers, Shaped this way maybe to appeal to the thousands on thousands of business, sales and management staff who drive them. Imagine any of the annoying
'Apprentice ' contestants if you would. The fact that more of these type of cars are involved in RTA is simply because they spend more time on the road than any other sector of society. Does it matter what care he drove? Well, i guess it would to the poor fellow who lost his life, as to his family and friends. If only mr salesman had got up earlier, or stopped for a coffee then maybe Arthur Platt would still be around. Or if the car behind him at that point was someone else taking care to look where they were going not playing around in his foorwell looking for a sat nav.

What i would say is the terminology with RTA's and their subsequent fines and records, are wrong. "I left my keys at home" is careless, "i dropped my phone in the loo", that's also careless, driving into the back of someone with enough force to kill them is apart from being deeply sad, is an act of cold hearted negligence.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

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posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
22nd June 2011 - 0:06

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a.jumper wrote:
don't care what they convict him of as long has he's not allowed in the driving seat for a long time

You and i know that sadly won't be the case. He'll be fined, get a few points and ordered to do some community service.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

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posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
22nd June 2011 - 0:08

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londonplayer wrote:
Why are motorists so dependent on their stupid Sat Navs? Can't they remember the route to drive to Sainsburys? There was a story on the BBC yesterday that tourists were frequently driving their cars into the North Sea because their satnavs told them to - and they did.
Quote:

...Well that's just idiocy, they deserve to get wet if they can't exercise common sense.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

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posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
22nd June 2011 - 0:12

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