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Cyclist killed on M3 was victim of "unavoidable collision," inquest hears

Simon Wagner died instantly when he was hit by car travelling at 70mph as he rode in middle lane of motorway

A cyclist who was killed in May as he rode his bike at night along the M3 motorway in Hampshire was the victim of an “unavoidable collision,” a police officer has told a coroner’s inquest.

Simon Wagner, aged 52 and from Ash Vale, died instantly when he was struck by an Audi A4 being driven by David Earl close to Fleet services on the evening of 5 May, reports getsurrey.co.uk.

He was cycling in the middle lane of the motorway when the fatal collision happened, although earlier he had been seen riding on the hard shoulder and in the nearside lane.

Basingstoke Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Wagner sustained a fractured skull, as well as fractures to his spine, knees, arms and ribs when he was struck by the vehicle which was travelling at 70mph.

Mr Earl told the court that he first saw Mr Wagner’s bicycle in the beam of his headlights, which were dipped, when he was around 50 feet away, giving him no time to react.

“I did not have time to brake. It happened in no more than a second,” said Mr Earl, who added that it seemed that Mr Wagner was riding across the middle lane from left to right.

The motorist stopped on the hard shoulder, as did Paul Hind, the driver of a vehicle following him, and called the emergency services.

According to PC Jamie Foster, police had already been notified that there was a cyclist on the motorway shortly before the collision. He said that he arrived at the scene and that “It was clear this was a fatal collision.”

Hampshire Police collision investigator Andy McDonald described the collision as “unavoidable” and said “It would have been very difficult to identify him [Mr Wagner] until late on.”

Paramedics confirmed Mr Wagner was dead at 11.10pm, and blood tests revealed him to have been 2.6 times over the drink-driving limit.

There was no indication of why Mr Wagner, an accountant and father of three who was described as an experienced rider, was on the motorway which would not have been his most direct route home.

Coroner Andrew Bradley, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: “It was quite clear on May 5 for whatever reason, there is no explanation, he is riding along the M3 motorway in the hours of darkness.

"He has consumed alcohol, that may have impaired his judgement. It may have made him feel he was invincible.

“This is a very strange situation, not one for which I have any explanation at all. For that I am sorry,” he added.

In a statement released following his death, Mr Wagner’s family said: “Simon had a warm and generous heart, loved life and made friends wherever he went.

“Simon touched so many lives and the news of his sudden and tragic death is a terrible shock for everyone who was lucky enough to have known him.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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42 comments

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Legs_Eleven_Wor... | 4 years ago
2 likes

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

Avatar
Hirsute replied to Legs_Eleven_Worcester | 4 years ago
0 likes
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

Why did you revive this article?

Avatar
Legs_Eleven_Wor... replied to Hirsute | 4 years ago
0 likes
hirsute wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

Why did you revive this article?

  1. The article popped up on the road.cc landing page, and I didn't know it was two years old until you asked 
     
  2. Is it against site policy?
    1. If the answer is 'yes', then delete it if you're an admin or ask an admin to do so, if you're not
       
    2. If the answer is 'no', then fuck off  smiley
Avatar
Hirsute replied to Legs_Eleven_Worcester | 4 years ago
1 like
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
hirsute wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

Why did you revive this article?

  1. The article popped up on the road.cc landing page, and I didn't know it was two years old until you asked 
     
  2. Is it against site policy?
    1. If the answer is 'yes', then delete it if you're an admin or ask an admin to do so, if you're not
       
    2. If the answer is 'no', then fuck off  smiley

You could have stopped at point 1, no need to be uncivil.
I thought perhaps, there might be some current relevance.

Avatar
Legs_Eleven_Wor... replied to Hirsute | 4 years ago
0 likes
hirsute wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
hirsute wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

Why did you revive this article?

  1. The article popped up on the road.cc landing page, and I didn't know it was two years old until you asked 
     
  2. Is it against site policy?
    1. If the answer is 'yes', then delete it if you're an admin or ask an admin to do so, if you're not
       
    2. If the answer is 'no', then fuck off  smiley

You could have stopped at point 1, no need to be uncivil. I thought perhaps, there might be some current relevance.

I wasn't actually being uncivil.  Hence the smiley.

Sorry if that didn't come across.  

Avatar
alansmurphy replied to Legs_Eleven_Worcester | 4 years ago
0 likes
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

 

Really, I travel in an Audi a lot and it travels under 70mph every time it is started up.

 

Before travelling at 70mph it tends to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, and 69mph.

Avatar
Legs_Eleven_Wor... replied to alansmurphy | 4 years ago
0 likes
alansmurphy wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

 

Really, I travel in an Audi a lot and it travels under 70mph every time it is started up.

 

Before travelling at 70mph it tends to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, and 69mph.

Read again.  This time for comprehension. 

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/limit#cald4-1-2-1

Avatar
alansmurphy replied to Legs_Eleven_Worcester | 4 years ago
0 likes
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
alansmurphy wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

 

Really, I travel in an Audi a lot and it travels under 70mph every time it is started up.

 

Before travelling at 70mph it tends to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, and 69mph.

Read again.  This time for comprehension. 

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/limit#cald4-1-2-1

 

I assume females aren't allowed to drive an Audi?

Avatar
Legs_Eleven_Wor... replied to alansmurphy | 4 years ago
0 likes
alansmurphy wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
alansmurphy wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:

Lots been written so far, to which I don't intend to add concerning blame etc. 

But ... one thing I'm willing to bet.  The Audi driver was not 'travelling at 70 mph'.

The only time an Audi driver limits his speed to 70 mph is in a 30 mph zone.   

 

Really, I travel in an Audi a lot and it travels under 70mph every time it is started up.

 

Before travelling at 70mph it tends to go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, and 69mph.

Read again.  This time for comprehension. 

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/limit#cald4-1-2-1

 

I assume females aren't allowed to drive an Audi?

Avatar
Chapo | 7 years ago
1 like

Exactly 70mph? 

What happened to braking?

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet replied to Chapo | 7 years ago
3 likes
finkcreative wrote:

Exactly 70mph? 

What happened to braking?

In reality who does 70 when the motorway is quiet? Not me, as I only expect large vehicles with lights on, not cyclists.

Avatar
STiG911 replied to Chapo | 7 years ago
11 likes
finkcreative wrote:

Exactly 70mph? 

What happened to braking?

Recognition Time + Distance to object * Speed - Reaction Time = Not much point. Or difference to the outcome.

Even if he had manage to brake even a bit, the guy could have ended up a parapalegic vegetable - much worse, imho.

 

All this 'blame the driver' shit. What the? Much as I love assumption (not) in these circumstances, the bare minimum of a reflector wouldn't have made any difference whatsoever. No driver expects a cyclist on the Motorway let alone in the middle lane. By the time the reflector is catching enough light to be seen by an approching car at those speeds it's still all over.

The cyclist is dead, the driver will feel like shit for something not even remotely his fault for the rest of his life. Enough already.

Avatar
fenix replied to STiG911 | 7 years ago
1 like
STiG911 wrote:
finkcreative wrote:

Exactly 70mph? 

What happened to braking?

Recognition Time + Distance to object * Speed - Reaction Time = Not much point. Or difference to the outcome.

Even if he had manage to brake even a bit, the guy could have ended up a parapalegic vegetable - much worse, imho.

 

All this 'blame the driver' shit. What the? Much as I love assumption (not) in these circumstances, the bare minimum of a reflector wouldn't have made any difference whatsoever. No driver expects a cyclist on the Motorway let alone in the middle lane. By the time the reflector is catching enough light to be seen by an approching car at those speeds it's still all over.

The cyclist is dead, the driver will feel like shit for something not even remotely his fault for the rest of his life. Enough already.

Up in the Lakes one year and driving on an unlit dual carriageway in the dark I could clearly see a guy on a mtb with no lights.
He had pedal reflectors though and that was all you coukd make out.
It was enough to realise a bike was there in plenty of time. Old school reflectors are amazing.

If he hadn't got those on I don't think he'd have made it home alive.

No idea on this particular situation - we don't know all the facts but I really can't blame the motorist here. He was cleared by the evidence heard.

Sad situation for everyone but no cyclist in their right mind would be in the middle lane of a motorway at night with no lights.

Avatar
UrbanBushman replied to fenix | 7 years ago
1 like
fenix wrote:

Up in the Lakes one year and driving on an unlit dual carriageway in the dark I could clearly see a guy on a mtb with no lights.
He had pedal reflectors though and that was all you coukd make out.
It was enough to realise a bike was there in plenty of time. Old school reflectors are amazing.

If he hadn't got those on I don't think he'd have made it home alive.

I agree. I always tell people that the pedal reflectors are the most important. Its the up and down movment of yellow. Its like nothing else on the road.

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CumbrianDynamo | 7 years ago
3 likes

@danthomas - I'm not sure rule 152 is that relevant here. I think most motorists (and probably non-motorists) would argue that you wouldn't normally expect to encounter "pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars" on a motorway, given all three of those things are prohibited on the motorway network.

Avatar
psling replied to CumbrianDynamo | 7 years ago
2 likes
timfearn wrote:

@danthomas - I'm not sure rule 152 is that relevant here. I think most motorists (and probably non-motorists) would argue that you wouldn't normally expect to encounter "pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars" on a motorway, given all three of those things are prohibited on the motorway network.

 

I think he is referring to mungecrundle's hypothetical situation and agreeing that he would indeed demand to be prosecuted in those circumstances.

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danthomascyclist replied to CumbrianDynamo | 7 years ago
0 likes
timfearn wrote:

@danthomas - I'm not sure rule 152 is that relevant here. I think most motorists (and probably non-motorists) would argue that you wouldn't normally expect to encounter "pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars" on a motorway, given all three of those things are prohibited on the motorway network.

 

It's completely relevant to the question I was asked. Please actually read what I was answering which was a question about cars emerging from junctions, and people emerging from between parked vehicles.

 

On a side note (not aimed at you timfearn), if people want a discussion that's cool, but don't misquote me. At no point have I "pushed for a prosecution"

Avatar
Mungecrundle replied to danthomascyclist | 7 years ago
1 like
danthomascyclist wrote:
timfearn wrote:

@danthomas - I'm not sure rule 152 is that relevant here. I think most motorists (and probably non-motorists) would argue that you wouldn't normally expect to encounter "pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars" on a motorway, given all three of those things are prohibited on the motorway network.

 

It's completely relevant to the question I was asked. Please actually read what I was answering which was a question about cars emerging from junctions, and people emerging from between parked vehicles.

 

On a side note (not aimed at you timfearn), if people want a discussion that's cool, but don't misquote me. At no point have I "pushed for a prosecution"

 

My apologies, it was ChrisB200SX demanding prosecution. He quoted your original text, and I didn't check properly before posting.

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CumbrianDynamo replied to danthomascyclist | 7 years ago
1 like
danthomascyclist wrote:

It's completely relevant to the question I was asked. Please actually read what I was answering which was a question about cars emerging from junctions, and people emerging from between parked vehicles.

 

Fair point -hold my hands up!  1

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WillRod | 7 years ago
0 likes

I am going to make a few assumptions here based on the victim and the drivers claim he didn't see him until 50ft.

I reckon the victim was wearing dark clothing, no high vis and had no lights on.

in that situation, a collision is incredibly likely on a road with a speed limit of 40mph+ due to the lack of time in which to swerve. Does this mean we should drive at 30mph at night?

Possibly, but it depends upon the circumstances. I am willing to bet the likelihood of hitting a dark coloured object on a motorway at night is so low, it would be pointless to enforce a lower limit at night.

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Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago
5 likes

This is all very unfortunate but I'd say the blame lays entirely with the cyclist this time.

On a road he shouldn't be on, pissed up and all over the road. It's the car driver I feel sorry for as it's just not the sort of thing you ever anticipate on a motorway at night.

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Mungecrundle | 7 years ago
7 likes

danthomascyclistidiot,

Hypothetically, if whilst cycling home this evening after dark, an unlit car driven by a drunk emerges from a side road and you collide with it, or an inebriated pedestrian falls into your path from between 2 parked vans and you run into them causing injury. Are you going to demand that the CPS prosecute you on account of your failure to avoid the collision (you could after all have been travelling slower and been more aware of the possibility of the event) or would you expect the mitigating circumstances to be taken into account?

The point is you are jumping up and down about having the driver involved prosecuted. Yet, unless you were an unmentioned witness to events on that night, know next to fuck all about what happened.

 

Avatar
danthomascyclist replied to Mungecrundle | 7 years ago
1 like
Mungecrundle wrote:

danthomascyclistidiot, 

Hypothetically, if whilst cycling home this evening after dark, an unlit car driven by a drunk emerges from a side road and you collide with it, or an inebriated pedestrian falls into your path from between 2 parked vans and you run into them causing injury. Are you going to demand that the CPS prosecute you on account of your failure to avoid the collision (you could after all have been travelling slower and been more aware of the possibility of the event) or would you expect the mitigating circumstances to be taken into account?

The point is you are jumping up and down about having the driver involved prosecuted. Yet, unless you were an unmentioned witness to events on that night, know next to fuck all about what happened.

 

Rule 146:
Where there are junctions, be prepared for road users emerging
(NB: The highway code makes no exception for drunk drivers)

Rule 152:

You should drive slowly and carefully on streets where there are likely to be pedestrians, cyclists and parked cars. In some areas a 20 mph (32 km/h) maximum speed limit may be in force. Look out for

vehicles emerging from junctions or driveways
vehicles moving off
car doors opening
pedestrians
children running out from between parked cars
cyclists and motorcyclists.

 

Remember - I don't make these rules. I just make best efforts to abide by them. If you disagree with the highway code you should consider forfeiting your licence

Avatar
danthomascyclist | 7 years ago
5 likes

So my OP has rattled a few cages. Here is a summary of the questions I've been asked:

Q) Do you think the speed limits should be dropped at night / everyone drive full beam?
A) No. Why are you asking such stupid questions? People should drive to the conditions, and as per the highway code be able to stop within the distance they can see to be clear. It is a speed LIMIT. If you can't see more than 20meters with your lights then yes, you need to drive in a way that reflects that - and if that means slowing down to a  Just because you have shitty lights, cheap bulbs, crap old car, whatever, doesn't give you divine right to drive everywhere at 70mph irrespective of all other factors.

 

Q) What about a railway line? Do you think that trains should be driven along them at a speed suitable for stopping in a short distance just in case someone or something is on the line. 
A) Why am I now an authority about railway lines? I do know that the Highway Code doesn't apply, and it's irrelevant to this discussion.

 

Q) Do you know what the guy was wearing? He could have blended in
A) Sure. He could have been wearing a tarmac-coated  cape and be lying down, if that's the case I can certainly symapthise with the driver. Anyone that has driven around Bristol at night would know that even dark-hooded people on BMXs are still seen the moment your lights hit them.

 

 

 

 

Avatar
j@n | 7 years ago
4 likes

RIP and my condolences to the guy's family. Perhaps he simply got on the motorway by accident and without realising (judgment hampered by alcohol and lack of day light). I've accidentally ended up on the M27 before, thinking it was a dual carriageway. Quite an easy mistake to make, if you join the motorway on a section without any blue signs.

One final point to add, the M3 is an 'A' road for some of it's distance (not that I would ride on it).

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mrmo | 7 years ago
2 likes

lots of things shouldn't be on the motorway, and there are lots of other things that you don't expect but may be there. 

 

Coming back along the M20 on Monday there was a red deer stag standing in the middle of the hardshoulder. Now move it over a lane or two. There was a case about a year ago?? or a driver being killed after hitting a wild boar on the M4 near swindon?? Not unheard of for horses to escape and get on to the motorway and have known the M5 affected because a swan landed on it.

Plenty of times you see dropped loads on the motorway as well. 

 

So it does come down to the cyclist shouldn't have been there, but is it reasonable to say i didn't see something that big when there are plenty of other things as big that could have been there that could have resulted in a serious accident leading to death??? 

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wycombewheeler replied to mrmo | 7 years ago
4 likes
mrmo wrote:

lots of things shouldn't be on the motorway, and there are lots of other things that you don't expect but may be there. 

 

Coming back along the M20 on Monday there was a red deer stag standing in the middle of the hardshoulder. Now move it over a lane or two. There was a case about a year ago?? or a driver being killed after hitting a wild boar on the M4 near swindon?? Not unheard of for horses to escape and get on to the motorway and have known the M5 affected because a swan landed on it.

Plenty of times you see dropped loads on the motorway as well. 

 

So it does come down to the cyclist shouldn't have been there, but is it reasonable to say i didn't see something that big when there are plenty of other things as big that could have been there that could have resulted in a serious accident leading to death??? 

so speed limits on motorways at night should be reduced, or we should all use full beam regardless of other road users? Because as I see it, everyone still drives on the motorway at night at these speeds and relies on the lights on other vehicles to know where they are as the dipped headligths do not have much range.

Avatar
mrmo replied to wycombewheeler | 7 years ago
3 likes

 

Quote:

so speed limits on motorways at night should be reduced, or we should all use full beam regardless of other road users? Because as I see it, everyone still drives on the motorway at night at these speeds and relies on the lights on other vehicles to know where they are as the dipped headligths do not have much range.

 

And on the french paege the speedlimits are reduced in rain. 

 

The crash on the sheppey bridge a few years ago when everyone drove into thick fog at 70 is that ok as well?

The highway code states drive to conditions, so which is it speed limit or conditions? 

 

 

 

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to mrmo | 7 years ago
1 like
mrmo wrote:

 

Quote:

so speed limits on motorways at night should be reduced, or we should all use full beam regardless of other road users? Because as I see it, everyone still drives on the motorway at night at these speeds and relies on the lights on other vehicles to know where they are as the dipped headligths do not have much range.

 

And on the french paege the speedlimits are reduced in rain. 

 

The crash on the sheppey bridge a few years ago when everyone drove into thick fog at 70 is that ok as well?

The highway code states drive to conditions, so which is it speed limit or conditions? 

 

 

 

Rain is different to darkness. In rain visibility can be reduced eve with everything lit up and stopping distances also increase.

Comparing darkness to fog is absurd. In the dark I can see the tail lights of the car ahead half a mile in front. You can't see every yard of road surface in between but seeing the lights of the car ahead is a reasonable indication that the previous vehicle encountered nothing untoward. If an unlit deer or cyclist comes in between in the meantime it's harsh to blame the driver.

This is the opposite xtreme to the driver who chooses to pass close and then claims there was no chance of reacting when the cyclist falls in front.of them.

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Butty | 7 years ago
2 likes

Dan, please tell us what to what extent the cyclist was visible to other road users on that night and his rate of change from lane to lane as the driver approached him?

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