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Skip lorry driver acquitted of causing death of cyclist in Hull

CCTV expert tells court that Craig Beharrell would have been in vehicle's blind spot...

A skip lorry driver has been acquitted at Hull Crown Court of causing the death of a cyclist through careless driving, with a CCTV expert telling the trial that the rider would have been in the vehicle’s blind spot before the fatal crash due to its wing mirrors.

Craig Beharrell, aged 42, was killed when he was hit by a skip lorry driven by Peter Sanderson, 62, on the city’s Hessle Road at 7.35am on 17 July 2017, reports the Hull Daily Mail.

Mr Beharrell had been riding on a cycle lane along Hessle Road when Sanderson turned left onto the road from Wiltshire Road.

The fatal crash was recorded on both the GoPro camera the cyclist was using and on CCTV in the cab of the lorry, with footage from both shown to the jury during the week-long trial.

CCTV analyst Matthew Cass, appearing as an expert witness for the defence, told the court that both the lorry and the cyclist became “synchronised” as they neared the junction.

He added that the cyclist would have been obscured from the lorry driver’s view because of the vehicle’s wing mirrors.

Before the jury retired to consider its verdict, Judge Paul Watson told them: “In difficult cases like these there are no winners and no losers and we in the criminal justice system entrust difficult decisions in cases like this to jurors to do their best to look at evidence on both sides.”

The jury acquitted Sanderson, who insisted he had not seen Mr Beharrell, after deliberating for nearly four and a half hours.

After delivering their not guilty verdict, the judge told the members of the jury that their decision had been informed by their “knowledge and experience of the world and their experience as drivers.”

Besides the fact that only the jury can know what factors went into their decision, it’s worth noting that Hull has the fourth-highest levels of cycle commuting in England and that nationwide, one in four households have no access to a motor vehicle.

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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47 comments

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cougie | 4 years ago
0 likes

Ridiculous verdict.

The lorry driver would know he has blind spots - that's why you need to look round the cab.

 

Poor cyclist never had a chance. 

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cougie | 4 years ago
2 likes

Ridiculous verdict.

The lorry driver would know he has blind spots - that's why you need to look round the cab.

 

Poor cyclist never had a chance. 

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zanf | 4 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

He added that the cyclist would have been obscured from the lorry driver’s view because of the vehicle’s wing mirrors.

//media2.giphy.com/media/CiYImHHBivpAs/giphy.gif)

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Fishpastesarnie | 4 years ago
1 like

I am currently listening to the audiobook The Scret Barrister. Eye opening stuff as to how and why the legal system is failing all of us. Criminals,victims and, witnesses we are all losing out.

They have a website here also https://thesecretbarrister.com/

 

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60kg lean keen ... | 4 years ago
1 like

Probably no help in this case but I remember as a child Leyland made a light truck the roadrunner with a dropped passenger window as a safety thing. Then after a few years due to cost it was pulled. This was 84/85 ish but now in 2019 we still have stuff that kills!

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dassie | 4 years ago
1 like

What is the scope for these court decisions being appealed?  Have there been any successful challenges made?   Something needs to change.

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Secret_squirrel replied to dassie | 4 years ago
0 likes
dassie wrote:

What is the scope for these court decisions being appealed?  Have there been any successful challenges made?   Something needs to change.

 

afaik you can't just appeal a judgement because you dont like it.  There has to be something potentially wrong with it, and I believe you have to have an interest in the case as something other than an outraged reader.

https://law.freeadvice.com/litigation/appeals/appeal-court-decision.htm

 

 

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RobD | 4 years ago
1 like

Is there not a case to be raised against the truck owners? If they're providing their drivers with a vehicle that's unsuitable for the job then they should be liable?

I know it'd never make it to court, but if enough of a fuss was made about it each time it happened then maybe it'll gradually make them take notice.

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Rick_Rude | 4 years ago
1 like

The other day and as we overtook a lorry I looked up and then back to see him no hands on the wheel eating a noodle dish. The other half of the time they seem to have a phone in the hands.

My commute is down mostly rural roads which lorries are banned from.....except the ones that do go down it and seen to be treating it as a rally stage. This said tractor drivers seem to be getting worse and worse, usually driven by some caveman youth once again....on the phone. I think I've seen a police car on these roads about twice in 10 years so nobody will ever get caught.

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A V Lowe | 4 years ago
7 likes

Now the trial is over there should be an inquest.

I'm trying to reconstruct the sequence here but it would help to see other pictures of the crash scene.

Some serious questions to ask

1) truck would usually be stopped as quickly after impact as possible, so Police can preserve evidence - why is it in the central median some distance from the left turn where the impact apparently took place, with victim's bike apparently in the middle of the carriageway perhaps 6-10 metres behind the truck.  Did the driver fail to notice - surely not going that fast? Was the driver heading for Sunningdale Road?

2) this is a 90 degree junction on to what appears to be a 30mph road (no signs indicating higher or lower limit) but the road has clearly been a dual carriageway, with 2 lanes each way, and laid out for speeds of 40mph or higher. The corner radius measures as 8 metres - - ie set-out to be taken at speeds over 30mph - rather than a 6 metre radius (the standard which can be taken by all normal large vehicles without running over the kerb, and forcing drivers to approach the junction 'square' to the approaching traffic to prevent a lazy merge turn - such as I suspect to be the case in this fatal crash.  As there is no right turn here there should also be a central island, to reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians & the hazard of crossing 2 opposing motor traffic flows in one move.

3) The bushes at the boundary of the Ambulance Station may have directly or through deflected vision, reduced the driver's observation of Westbound traffic on Hessle Road.

The whole road geometry here is totally inappropriate for a 30mph speed limit & needs to be adjusted to remove the 'invitation' travel at higher speeds.

From the narrative it seems likely that the victim was hit from the rear by the front offside corner of the HGV (with the driver possibly more focussed on merging with motor traffic coming up behind (at more than 30mph))

The nature of the impact with the driver moving out to the right, would have put his victim on the road directly in line with all 4 axles to run over them. the truck is an N3G chassis specified for off-road use, but (IMO inappropriately) spending 90+% of its time being driven on smooth hard pavements.  The gap between the lower cab valance and the road surface is  40+cm  and there is no provision to deflect any victim clear of the wheels if they pass under the front, and for this vehicle, the sides should they fall onto the road (the side guards on this truck are an obscene 'joke' - almost as useless as those on Hayley Drummond's tipper that killed on Chelsea Bridge - the gap underneath is well over 30cm)

Should there be an opportunity to contact the coroner regarding this inquest I'd be strongly calling for a Section 28 report response from the Council on what measures are being taken to remove the hazardous features from this road layout, and from DVSA, and DfT on what measures can be taken to prevent any cyclist or pedestrian knocked down  in a collision with an HGV from passing under the wheels - and thus massively reducing the risk of being crushed and killed.

 

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AlsoSomniloquism | 4 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:
CarlosFerreiro wrote:

It sounds like what was described was a similar situation to what is in this excentent piece
https://singletrackworld.com/2018/01/collision-course-why-this-type-of-r...

If it was then yes, those kinds of uncommon circumstances can mean you don't get away with the sloppy checking like you usually do, and actually need to make an effort like you are supposed to.  22 

Thank you for that link, absolutely fascinating and educational.  Should be compulsory reading for highway engineers.

Brooksby linked to that earlier in the comments, albeit a diferent website.

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Muddy Ford | 4 years ago
4 likes

Lorry driver approached a junction that had a cycle lane but did not check it was clear before driving over it. Therefore did not give way. Mirrors had fuck all to do with it, as he knew they had a blindspot so should have stopped and checked with his own fucking eyes that nothing was coming. Michael Douglas didnt need to go to such extraordinary lengths in A Perfect Murder...he could have just bought his wife a bike and run her over....

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john1967 | 4 years ago
3 likes

Absolute f#cking B#llSh#t.. I've said it before and I'll say it again and again.
It is now perfectly acceptable to kill cyclists.

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willsdad | 4 years ago
2 likes

Just to add a slightly different perspective to the discussion. I work for the Spinal Team at a Hospital. All the reports about additional mirrors are irrelevant. We frequently see people who cannot turn their heads enough to function properly, yet seem to feel happy driving to appointments.

You can make vehicles look like a Mods scooter with additional mirrors but if you cant move your head to look in them what's the point? If you know that you can't turn your head, why even bother trying. So anything beyond straight ahead is a potential blindspot. 

All the stuff about pillars this and that is all guff. 

 

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burtthebike replied to willsdad | 4 years ago
0 likes
willsdad wrote:

Just to add a slightly different perspective to the discussion. I work for the Spinal Team at a Hospital. All the reports about additional mirrors are irrelevant. We frequently see people who cannot turn their heads enough to function properly, yet seem to feel happy driving to appointments.

You can make vehicles look like a Mods scooter with additional mirrors but if you cant move your head to look in them what's the point? If you know that you can't turn your head, why even bother trying. So anything beyond straight ahead is a potential blindspot. 

All the stuff about pillars this and that is all guff.

Wow!  You could be used as the exemplar of observation bias.

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RobD replied to willsdad | 4 years ago
1 like
willsdad wrote:

Just to add a slightly different perspective to the discussion. I work for the Spinal Team at a Hospital. All the reports about additional mirrors are irrelevant. We frequently see people who cannot turn their heads enough to function properly, yet seem to feel happy driving to appointments.

I've just had a similar discussion with my father in law, he's injured his knee recently, to the point that he can barely walk and is in agony to sit down and is due to have it drained at the end of the week, yet he was considering driving to pick up my niece tomorrow and had to be convinced that someone else should drive. 

People just don't seem to consider just how compromised they are when it comes to driving when ill, injured etc. Unfortunately they get away with it until there's an accident by which point it's usually far too late.

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burtthebike | 4 years ago
3 likes

If someone would like to start a crowdfunder page to appeal this decision, count me in for £50.

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gcommie replied to burtthebike | 4 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

If someone would like to start a crowdfunder page to appeal this decision, count me in for £50.

Would be a waste of time and money. The family were lucky that this even went to court, given the lack of interest by the police and CPS to prosecute, but any appeal would only result in another jury acquitting the driver.

Basically if a driver is not prepared to plead guilty to the charge, you can take it as read that they'd get let off in court. I'd happily take my chances in court if I killed someone on the road.

Avatar
burtthebike replied to gcommie | 4 years ago
1 like
gcommie wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

If someone would like to start a crowdfunder page to appeal this decision, count me in for £50.

Would be a waste of time and money. The family were lucky that this even went to court, given the lack of interest by the police and CPS to prosecute, but any appeal would only result in another jury acquitting the driver.

Basically if a driver is not prepared to plead guilty to the charge, you can take it as read that they'd get let off in court. I'd happily take my chances in court if I killed someone on the road.

In that case, if someone would like to start a crowdfunding page for assassinating the driver, put me down for £100.

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burtthebike | 4 years ago
2 likes

As I understand it, this collision wasn't caused by a blind spot not visible in the mirrors, it was caused because the mirrors created a blind spot.  From the description, the driver was pulling out onto the main road, which the cyclist was riding along, but the driver didn't see the cyclist because he was obscured by the mirror.  As the cyclist approached the truck, their combined speeds meant that he remained in that blind spot and was struck by the lorry.  This seems barely credible, and only just possible, but I suppose if that's what the cctv evidence shows, then it happened.

But it seems to me that a reasonable driver would take care to ensure that there was nobody riding along the cycle lane, so the failure of the jury to convict is just drivers looking after drivers.

If fitting more mirrors to eliminate the blind spot actually creates another blind spot in a different place, it's the wrong solution; just like massive A pillars.

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CarlosFerreiro replied to burtthebike | 4 years ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

As I understand it, this collision wasn't caused by a blind spot not visible in the mirrors, it was caused because the mirrors created a blind spot.  From the description, the driver was pulling out onto the main road, which the cyclist was riding along, but the driver didn't see the cyclist because he was obscured by the mirror.  As the cyclist approached the truck, their combined speeds meant that he remained in that blind spot and was struck by the lorry.  This seems barely credible, and only just possible, but I suppose if that's what the cctv evidence shows, then it happened.

But it seems to me that a reasonable driver would take care to ensure that there was nobody riding along the cycle lane, so the failure of the jury to convict is just drivers looking after drivers.

If fitting more mirrors to eliminate the blind spot actually creates another blind spot in a different place, it's the wrong solution; just like massive A pillars.

It sounds like what was described was a similar situation to what is in this excentent piece
https://singletrackworld.com/2018/01/collision-course-why-this-type-of-r...

If it was then yes, those kinds of uncommon circumstances can mean you don't get away with the sloppy checking like you usually do, and actually need to make an effort like you are supposed to.  22 

Avatar
burtthebike replied to CarlosFerreiro | 4 years ago
1 like
CarlosFerreiro wrote:
burtthebike wrote:

As I understand it, this collision wasn't caused by a blind spot not visible in the mirrors, it was caused because the mirrors created a blind spot.  From the description, the driver was pulling out onto the main road, which the cyclist was riding along, but the driver didn't see the cyclist because he was obscured by the mirror.  As the cyclist approached the truck, their combined speeds meant that he remained in that blind spot and was struck by the lorry.  This seems barely credible, and only just possible, but I suppose if that's what the cctv evidence shows, then it happened.

But it seems to me that a reasonable driver would take care to ensure that there was nobody riding along the cycle lane, so the failure of the jury to convict is just drivers looking after drivers.

If fitting more mirrors to eliminate the blind spot actually creates another blind spot in a different place, it's the wrong solution; just like massive A pillars.

It sounds like what was described was a similar situation to what is in this excentent piece
https://singletrackworld.com/2018/01/collision-course-why-this-type-of-r...

If it was then yes, those kinds of uncommon circumstances can mean you don't get away with the sloppy checking like you usually do, and actually need to make an effort like you are supposed to.  22 

Thank you for that link, absolutely fascinating and educational.  Should be compulsory reading for highway engineers.

Avatar
growingvegtables | 4 years ago
1 like

"The fatal crash was recorded on both the GoPro camera the cyclist was using and on CCTV in the cab of the lorry, with footage from both shown to the jury during the week-long trial."

 

Ummm - I'm struggling. 

  • The operator installed CCTV in the lorry cab, which recorded the crash ... but couldn't be arsed to resolve inadequate mirrors?  WTAF.
  • Not that surprised that a jury of drivers found another driver innocent ... no surprises.   2
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Daveyraveygravey | 4 years ago
0 likes

I've just driven 1200 miles from Brighton to Pescara in Italy, in a car I bought recently. Before leaving, I bought a breathalyser that the French govt insist on, a GB sticker, headlamp deflectors, etc etc. I also bought a couple of those little blind spot mirrors for about a tenner because years of driving on the motorways of Europe has taught me you can never be sure what's behind you and how fast it is approaching. Safety legislation is such a huge part of vehicle manufacture these days, but the public is expected to buy these little things themselves. Trucks could have about 3 on each mirror, the mirrors are so big.
The judge is right, there are no winners or losers. I can't remember if there was any sentence passed on to the truck driver? He didn't set out to kill anyone, but he should have been aware of his blindspot.
Possibly the rider could have slowed down to let the truck clear him before the junction, or even covered his brakes and been ready to take avoiding action.
Cycle lanes are shit though, UK drivers or the standard of driving in the UK is so bad, non-segregated lanes are just an accident waiting to happen. The government should spend some time effort and money on educating drivers about their responsibility. Maybe you should have to resit your driving test every 5 or 10 years?
And as for the justice system, can we get a jury of cyclists any time?

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Christopher TR1 | 4 years ago
8 likes

A motorist literally drove straight into me a couple of weeks back while I was stationary at a T-junction. She came to an emergency stop as her front bumber kissed my front tyre and no actual damage was done (unless you count a heavily soiled pair of bib shorts ;-)).

Anyway, she explained that it wasn't her fault because I was in the blind spot behind her A-pillar!

I assumed everyone would agree that she was totally at fault, but now it seems that her excuse is accepted by law - I'm dumbfounded!

As others have said, it should be a given that you move your head in order to eliminate all blind spots. It's not too much too ask in order to avoid killing somebody, is it?!

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HoarseMann | 4 years ago
6 likes

If this was a stop, rather than a give way junction then this might not have happened. See it all the time where drivers barely slow down before giving a casual glance prior to pulling out.

Can’t believe the driver got away with it. Surely failing to check your blind spots is careless?!

A reminder to make eye contact and expect the unexpected. Condolences.

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Jimnm | 4 years ago
1 like

Sounds like the jury believed the so called expert. The lorry’s  mirrors were inadequate. I thought that blind spots had been sorted out by the mounting of a third mirror. I must be wrong. Beggars belief. 

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Jimnm | 4 years ago
0 likes
Jimnm wrote:

Sounds like the jury believed the so called expert. The lorry’s  mirrors were inadequate. I thought that blind spots had been sorted out by the mounting of a third mirror. I must be wrong. Beggars belief. 

Adding extra mirrors actually contributed to this as the large mirrors on the side to see back and below sides meant more real estate blocked for looking along the road forward left and right. 

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burtthebike | 4 years ago
8 likes

The utterly predictable result of a driver being tried by a jury of drivers.

Such a pity that the reverse isn't true, and cyclists are tried by a jury of other cyclists.

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alansmurphy | 4 years ago
5 likes

Awavey, it's basically telling me he was coasting the junction and the mirror hid the cyclist as they were moving at a similar pace. If he'd been approaching the junction looking, stopped and looked and then looked as he began the maouvere you'd expect that at some point the rider was completely visible.

 

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