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Case launched the Times cycling campaign

The father of a Times journalist who was left in a coma after a lorry ran her over as she cycled to work has said that the use of hands-free devices while driving should be made illegal.

Mary Bowers was hit by lorry driver Petre Beiu, 40 in November 2011. Beiu was using a hands free mobile phone.

He was fined £2,700 for careless drving and banned from driving for eight months.

Peter Bowers told the BBC: "Although it is legal to use a hands-free set at the moment, the research shows that actually, in terms of distraction, there is very little difference between a hand-held mobile phone and a hands-free one."

Mary is unable to move or speak and will spend the rest of her life in a nursing home. She is not expected to live beyond 35.

Driving while using a handsfree mobile is not in itself illegal, unlike using a handheld phone, but if it results in driver distraction it can be used to support a charge of dangerous or careless driving and the prosecution had maintained that Beiu was “too engrossed in a telephone conversation” to be aware of the cyclist.

The prosecution also said that he had failed to check whether the road ahead of his lorry, where Ms Bowers had positioned herself at traffic lights, was clear, and witnesses described how the truck continued to move after Beiu jumped from the cab having failed to engage the handbrake.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.