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Prime Minister urged to extend dangerous driving law to cyclists

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that the 1861 offence of wanton and furious driving, on which the prosecution had to rely in this case, is hopelessly outdated and wholly inadequate?"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.

 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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