Jail for lorry driver dazzled by sun and on hands-free mobile call when he killed cyclist

Investigating officer says distraction caused by phone call may have contributed to fatal crash

A lorry driver who claimed to have been dazzled by the sun and was on a hands-free mobile phone call when he killed a cyclist in Cambridgeshire has been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.

Hilary Cox, aged 59, died in Addenbroooke’s Hospital, Cambridge on 4 December 2018, the day after she had been struck by a lorry driven by Marek Witulski on the A141, reports Cambs Times.

Mrs Cox had been cycling to her home in Chatteris after finishing her shift at the Green Welly Café on Doddington Road.

Wituslki’s lorry struck her bike’s handlebars as he overtook her, causing her to fall from her bike, sustaining serious head injuries.

The driver, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, brought his lorry to a halt further along the road because he had “heard a noise,” Peterborough Crown Court was told.

The court heard that during their investigation, police discovered that Witulski had been speaking to his wife on a hands-free mobile phone call.

While it is not illegal to make a voice call on a hands-free mobile phone while driving, police do sometimes use it as evidence of driver distraction contributing to a collision.

Witsulski also told officers at interview that the glare from the sun from the wet road had dazzled him, but he continued to drive despite the effect on his vision.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, and as well as the eight-month jail sentence was also banned from driving for two years and four months.

Sergeant Mark Dollard of Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “This case highlights the dangers of driving while distracted, particularly when the weather conditions are not favourable.

“Witulski was driving his HGV on a particularly sunny day, causing him to be dazzled. Instead of taking additional precautions he continued to drive as he would normally.

“He failed to see Mrs Cox on her bicycle, hitting her which tragically resulted in her death.

“This was compounded by the fact he was on his phone. It is accepted his phone was on loudspeaker and was being used hands-free, but he is going to have to spend the rest of his life wondering if this distraction caused him to not see Mrs Cox.

“I urge all drivers to ensure they pay careful attention to driving, and be particularly aware of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians,” he added.

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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