Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Leicester taxi driver convicted in 'dooring' death of cyclist Sam Boulton

£300 fine plus costs for driver of cab whose passenger opened door into cyclist's path...

A Leicester taxi driver has been fined £300 plus costs following his conviction today of the offence of 'car-dooring' in relation to the death on 27 July last year of schoolteacher Sam Boulton, who was killed when a passenger in the cab opened its door into his path, causing him to fall into the path of a van.

In March, taxi passenger Mandy Chapple was fined £80 after admitting the offence of opening a car door, or causing or permitting it to be opened, so as to cause injury in connection with the death of Mr Boulton, who had turned 26 years of age that day.

The same month saw the van driver, Nigel Ingram, admitted failure to stop and driving while over the legal limit for alcohol. He was handed a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and conditional on his attending a 12-week course for treatment for his alcohol addiction. He was also banned from driving for 28 months.

> Suspended sentence for van driver who killed cyclist Sam Boulton after taxi passenger opened door

Taxi driver Farook Yusuf Bhikhu was charged with the same offence as Ms Chapple, entering a plea of not guilty, but was convicted today at Loughborough Magistrates' Court.

He was fined £300 plus a £30 victim surcharge and £625 in court costs, which he will repay at £20 a week.

Under English law, car dooring is an offence that can be committed both by the person in charge of a vehicle and any passenger. The maximum penalty is a £1,000 fine.

The charity Cycling UK is calling for tougher penalties, including the introduction of a new offence of causing death or serious injury by car dooring.

The charity's senior road safety and legal campaigns officer, Duncan Dollimore, said: “How many Sam Boultons have to die before government takes notes, and stops treating avoidable deaths as accidents? A maximum £1000 fine is derisory, and trivialises these preventable tragedies. 

“Cycling UK wants to see Government introduce a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car dooring, with tougher penalties. It is not right or just that tragic cases, such as Sam's, see inadequate penalties handed down. 

“Tougher penalties, including the option of custodial sentencing, should be an option for the court in life-changing or fatal cases, which in turn would hopefully encourage the police and CPS to prosecute.”

The victim's father, Jeff Boulton, also urged for changes to the law.

He said: "It's heart breaking that an offence which has ended a life and caused untold trauma for my family be treated so lightly under current legislation. 

"Car-dooring must be taken more seriously, and the only way to do that is to change the law. Only then will we see people taking the time to think before they act.

"Until we have an appropriate offence in law, I call on the government to start investigating how they can better educate and train drivers about the dangers of car-dooring and the techniques which will prevent it from happening."

According to Cycling UK, official figures show that there were 561 reported collisions in Great Britain in 2015 where "vehicle door opened or closed negligently" was cited by police as a contributory factor.

Along with other campaigners, it is calling for the technique known as the 'Dutch Reach' to be introduced in the UK.

The technique, taught to learner drivers in the Netherlands, encourages motorists and passengers to open the door with the hand furthest away from it, a movement which naturally rotates the upper body, meaning they can see cyclists and other vehicles approaching from behind.

However, in February, transport minister Andrew Jones told the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group that there were no plans to make the technique compulsory in the UK.

> Transport minister: No plans to introduce ‘Dutch Reach’ anti-dooring technique to UK

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.

Add new comment

18 comments

Avatar
Hirsute | 4 years ago
0 likes

The story is 2 years old but I'll point out the van driver could not avoid the cyclist as the dooring propelled the cyclist into the vans path.

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 4 years ago
0 likes

6mths prison for killing someone whilst drunk? But killing someone because you have no front brake gets 18mths? ...ah, of course..because if you are a cyclist victim the crime is petty, but a cyclist perpetrator the crime is severe and warrants national outrage. I hope the judges get asthma, if that is the only way they will understand cycling isnt the problem...

Avatar
ktache | 7 years ago
2 likes

Been a while since I used a cab, but I'm sure that the drivers don't unlock the doors until you have handed over the cash.  Talking black cabs of course.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... | 7 years ago
2 likes

I'm sure it's not the legal position, but morally I would place most of the blame on the passenger who actually openned the door, rather than the taxi-driver. The passenger presumably isn't a child and the taxi-driver isn't their parent. (I'd place some of the blame on bad road design)

Why is it so hard for people to learn to look? I suspect this is another thing that would happen much less if we had a Dutch mass-cycling culture, where people would be much more aware of the existence of cyclists.

Avatar
henrik.b | 7 years ago
2 likes

Meanwhile in Norway, motorists get £200 PER TYRE in a bus lane. So killing someone in the UK is cheaper than driving with two wheels in the bus lane in Norway. 

Avatar
Accessibility f... | 7 years ago
4 likes

The dooring is one thing.  But he was killed by a van driver over the alcohol limit, and that van driver has been banned for only 28 months.  That's two years and four months.

I'm fucking sick of it.  Kill someone while drink-driving and you should be banned for life.

Avatar
brooksby replied to Accessibility for all | 7 years ago
1 like

Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

The dooring is one thing.  But he was killed by a van driver over the alcohol limit, and that van driver has been banned for only 28 months.  That's two years and four months.

I'm fucking sick of it.  Kill someone while drink-driving and you should be banned for life.

Yes, but he would not have been run over by the drink driving van driver if the taxi driver and his passenger had also acted responsibly... (Not defending the van driver, mind).

Avatar
Gourmet Shot | 7 years ago
0 likes

lols....fcking beaut said the taxi driver as he headed out of court

Avatar
McDowall | 7 years ago
3 likes

  The locks are on when the cab is moving but released when the hand brake is applied and the foot is off the footbrake.   As most cabs are automatic you need to put the handbrake on stop 'creep' contiunally   when in traffic or stopped.  Short of rembering to always place your foot on the fottbrake (give that a go the next time you do several hours behind the wheel and see how  your foot holds up) it is not possible to stop people unexpectantly alighting.   Must people are sensible and it is possible to get them to the kerb so they can get out there are always some that will just pop a door when you are not expecting it.  Sometime foreigners will try and get out on the 'wrong' side and despite a warning will continue because of langauge difficulties.  Experience has taught me a sharp command of STOP is the way to go, after being all British earlier in my 'career' and trying to explain has not worked and they have still opened the door into traffic.

 

 

Avatar
Awavey replied to McDowall | 7 years ago
3 likes
McDowall wrote:

  The locks are on when the cab is moving but released when the hand brake is applied and the foot is off the footbrake.   As most cabs are automatic you need to put the handbrake on stop 'creep' contiunally   when in traffic or stopped.  Short of rembering to always place your foot on the fottbrake (give that a go the next time you do several hours behind the wheel and see how  your foot holds up) it is not possible to stop people unexpectantly alighting.   Must people are sensible and it is possible to get them to the kerb so they can get out there are always some that will just pop a door when you are not expecting it.  Sometime foreigners will try and get out on the 'wrong' side and despite a warning will continue because of langauge difficulties.  Experience has taught me a sharp command of STOP is the way to go, after being all British earlier in my 'career' and trying to explain has not worked and they have still opened the door into traffic.

 

 

my car for the last 15 years has had a central locking console switch that locks or unlocks the doors as and when I the driver chooses, this isnt terribly difficult or unheard of new technology to refine for taxi cabs in these situations.

Avatar
alansmurphy | 7 years ago
3 likes

I'm usually all for tougher sentences but am unsure how you prevent a passenger from opening their door...

Avatar
LastBoyScout replied to alansmurphy | 7 years ago
7 likes

alansmurphy wrote:

I'm usually all for tougher sentences but am unsure how you prevent a passenger from opening their door...

Every black cab I've been in in the last few years has automatic locks on the doors once the vehicle is moving, to prevent accidental door opening. Just need to make these driver-operated, then all the onus is on the driver checking it's safe to open the door.

Pretty much every other car is already fitted with child locks - make all passengers sit in the back and turn them on, if only on the driver's side, as that is the side most cyclists would be passing on, although that does mean the driver would have to get out to let the fares out. You'd also need to disable the windows to stop the trick of winding them down to reach the outside handle.

Avatar
DrJDog replied to alansmurphy | 7 years ago
0 likes

alansmurphy wrote:

I'm usually all for tougher sentences but am unsure how you prevent a passenger from opening their door...

 

"hold on, there's something coming" - that might do it?

Avatar
Grahamd replied to alansmurphy | 7 years ago
2 likes

alansmurphy wrote:

I'm usually all for tougher sentences but am unsure how you prevent a passenger from opening their door...

How about taxis pulling in to the nearside kerb, and passengers getting out of the nearside door, with the off side door locked. 

Avatar
brooksby replied to Grahamd | 7 years ago
1 like

Grahamd wrote:

alansmurphy wrote:

I'm usually all for tougher sentences but am unsure how you prevent a passenger from opening their door...

How about taxis pulling in to the nearside kerb, and passengers getting out of the nearside door, with the off side door locked. 

But you *are* supposed to get out of the car on the pavement side, aren't you? Isn't that a Highway Code thing?

Avatar
balmybaldwin | 7 years ago
4 likes

£300 for killing someone through negligence FFS

Avatar
cyclisto | 7 years ago
3 likes

More pressure for Dutch Reach please

Avatar
vonhelmet replied to cyclisto | 7 years ago
2 likes

cyclisto wrote:

More pressure for Dutch Reach please

I wish that didn't sound so much like a dodgy sex move.

Latest Comments