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Injured cyclist calls for drivers to pay attention after motorist hit her from behind, throwing her into ditch – but escaped police action

“We hope her story acts as a warning about the dangers that vulnerable road users such as cyclists face and why it’s important for everyone to take care on the roads”

A cyclist who was left with life-changing injuries when a motorist ploughed into her from behind, throwing her into a ditch, has called for drivers to be “aware of the damage they can cause on the roads” by not paying attention and looking out for vulnerable road users.

Lauren Varley, from Blaxton, near Doncaster, was cycling home from feeding her horses last August when she was struck from behind by the driver of a BMW, throwing her from her bike and into a ditch.

The mother-of-one was helped by passers-by and taken to hospital, where she was treated for multiple serious injuries, including a fractured spine, a broken leg and ankle, and degloving injuries on her ankle and elbow. The 37-year-old spent 10 days in hospital, undergoing several operations, including having her right ankle pinned and plated, and skin grafts.

Police launched an investigation into the incident but decided not to take any further action against the motorist.

However, after the driver’s insurance company admitted liability for the crash, Lauren was awarded a five-figure interim payment to help her ongoing rehabilitation and to deal with what she describes as the long-term effects of the crash, including being forced to abandon the launch of her new livery stable business.

***Warning: the following image may be distressing for some readers***

Cyclist’s injuries after being hit from behind by driver (Lauren Varley)

(Credit: Lauren Varley)

“It was a gorgeous sunny day and perfect conditions. On the way home, three cars had overtaken me without no problem and then I remember hearing a car, thinking that’s loud, then the next thing I knew I was hit from behind,” Lauren says, describing the incident and its aftermath.

“My next memory is being laid out in the ditch looking up and shouting for help. The driver had stopped quite far down the road but didn’t come over. I was on my back thinking how I could drag myself out of the ditch as I was petrified no one could see me and I’d be left there.

“Then some people came and called the emergency services. I started losing a lot of blood. The pain was getting worse and it felt like an age until the emergency services arrived. All I remember was the lights of the ambulance and that was it. I’d passed out.”

She continued: “It was only when I came round in hospital did the extent of my injuries become apparent. It wasn’t a case of spending a few days in hospital then going home and everything would be okay. That was only the start of it.

“The last few months and trying to come to terms with both the physical and mental trauma of everything has been difficult. Life before the accident was good. I’ve always loved horses and horse riding and was about to turn my passion into launching my livery business. However, all that changed in a few seconds.

“I went from having all these plans and being outgoing and sociable to someone who was reliant on others for help. I still have flashbacks to the collision and am a lot more nervous when going out. Even things like the school run and going out at weekends with my daughter are a struggle.”

> Hit-and-run driver ran red light "at speed" and hit 10-year-old cyclist, avoids jail

Nevertheless, the 37-year-old believes that by speaking publicly about the impact of the crash on her life, she can spread awareness among motorists of the need to pay attention on the roads and to be aware of vulnerable road users.

“Despite everything I’m determined to try and not let what happened dominate my life. I’m trying to focus on my recovery and still want to set up my business if I can,” she said.

“I just hope that by speaking out people are aware of the damage they can cause by not paying attention on the roads.”

Grace Todd, the serious injury expert at Irwin Mitchell, who represented Lauren, added: “The terrible injuries Lauren suffered through no fault of her own have greatly impacted not only her life but that of her family.

“She’s lost a lot of independence, and while through access to early rehabilitation she’s making progress in her recovery, Lauren still faces many challenges.

“We’re determined to help Lauren make the best recovery possible. In the meantime, we hope her story acts as a warning about the dangers that vulnerable road users such as cyclists face and why it’s important for everyone to take care on the roads.”

> “People are encouraged to cycle but there’s nothing happening to make it safer”: Seriously injured cyclist blasts council inaction and “negativity” towards cycling infrastructure

Yesterday, we reported on the live blog that a cyclist who was struck by a motorist at a roundabout, leaving him with multiple fractures, including a broken pelvis, has called on his local council to do more to protect people riding their bikes and to end the “negativity” surrounding cycling infrastructure.

Simon Rowan, who returned to his Galway home last week after a four-and-a-half month stay in hospital following the January crash, says the Irish city is the “worst place I’ve ever cycled by a long shot”, despite spending several years living in Los Angeles.

Last year, plans for a major two-way, 3km-long segregated cycleway along the promenade in Salthill, a seaside suburb of Galway City, were scrapped when councillors – who initially backed the project – voted 13 to four against it after local business owners said the lane would create “havoc”.

“I have been thinking about what makes Galway so bad,” Simon told the Irish Times this week. “It keeps on coming back to the council and councillors and the negativity towards cyclists here.

“The decision on the prom [in Salthill] really got to me especially now after my accident… To me it was that car parking space was more valuable than a child being safe, or some adults being safe on a bike.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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Off the back | 3 months ago

This was a few years back, but I was hit and run by a twunt in a yellow Corsa. He sped off and abandoned his car a few miles down the road. The yellow object in the pic is his left wing mirror assembly which snapped off such was the force in which he hit me with it. 

thsnkfully the police caught him and charged him with failure to stop, failure to report and accident , driving without due care etc. when the magistrate read out his conviction the list of previous crimes he had been charged with - to point out he wasn't of previous good character - was full of driving offences. How was this guy still on the road? He had 9 points and 3 other convictions for road rage type offences. People like this should be prevented from being in tbe road at all costs before they end up killing someone. 

caadphile | 3 months ago

I ended up in hospital last year after a careless chap didn't check to see if the junction was clear and drove head first into me. Another driver had narrowly missed me seconds before. Police only got back to me 5 days later after I'd chased it up and said it was a three way accident and no action would be taken. In fact I could potentially be charged with careless cycling because I took my eyes off the road to look at the first driver. I honestly thought I did something wrong until I spoke to Cycle Law Scotland. It's the only justice you get. I'm still so angry about it even after the compensation payout. This was in Glasgow incidentally so we can all delight in the horrendous policing across the whole country. I hope Lauren makes a full recovery and gets back to her best asap

joeegg | 3 months ago

A few months ago i was struck virtually head on by an 80 year old driver who had turned into my side of the road at a junction. Nearby house had cctv,which the police looked at,and confirmed driver at fault.
No further action by the police as " it was
an accident ,and you may have been in his blind spot ".
In some ways i expected this,but hoped that at the very least the driver would go on a course for an assessment of his driving.
To make it a little bit harder for me the police sent me the wrong registration number,a Royal Enfield motorcycle.

Carior | 3 months ago

How, on god's green earth, can you do that to someone and the rozzers be like "nah, that seems fine".  

The level of negligent and incompetent driving that we tolerate in this country is mind-boggling.  That such shitty driving is normalised to the point where this doesn't merit any kind of police intervention is just mind-boggling.

It's so difficult because ultimately you can do everything to make yourself save and you can still end up left shattered in a ditch by someone abusing the privilege of driving - and that's what we need to remember, driving is a f-ing privilege, not a right and far too many people forget that!

BigBaz | 3 months ago

A similar incident happened to a friend of mine. I don't want to go in to too much detail but the intervention of British Cycling legal team resulted in a disciplinary procedure against the attending officer as the Garmin on my friend's damaged bike showed he'd driven at 100mph on his way back to the station ! On another note my friend had to have an MRI scan as he'd been knocked out, it showed up a cancerous growth on his kidney that required immediate treatment, He's fine now, silver linings and all that 😉

Secret_squirrel | 3 months ago

This sort of negligence by the rozzers is what prompts vigilantism.  

Shaun TheDiver | 3 months ago

Incidents like this are the reason I have cameras fitted front and rear, and one on my helmet. 

cyclisto replied to Shaun TheDiver | 3 months ago

How a camera would have prevented such an accident? Or do you mean these rear radar cameras set?

Secret_squirrel replied to cyclisto | 3 months ago

He didnt say it would have prevented it.  The implication is that it would have left the driver bang to rights and given the rozzers less excuse to fail to prosecute.

Rendel Harris replied to cyclisto | 3 months ago

cyclisto wrote:

How a camera would have prevented such an accident? Or do you mean these rear radar cameras set?

A camera wouldn't have prevented the incident (though as an aside in my experience a sign showing you're carrying a camera can improve driver behaviour) but it would make it more likely (I'd like to say "ensures" but this is UK police) that the driver would face condign punishment for their dangerous behaviour. 

Muddy Ford | 3 months ago

Please take more care..  Fuck that, I'd be following that driver in my car, waiting for the moment I could give him as much care. He drove away and only stopped when he realised he had been spotted by other people, and I expect if they hadn't been there he would have left her for dead. This isnt just police being useless, it's negligence and reenforces a mail reader opinion that cyclists lives don't matter.  

cmedred | 3 months ago

What exactly is the point of asking people who don't care to take more care? The only real solution is to treat these sorts of collisions for what they are - assaults. 

dubwise | 3 months ago

I hope that Lauren fully recovers and in time she is able to launch her business.

Words absolutely fail me reading about the police.  A pox on the driver, police and legal system.

After reading this and about the girl in Manchester, you wonder when the police and legal system are going to take this seriously?

How many more have to be killed, seriously injured before someone acts.  It is will beyond comprehension that they do nothing.  As a late friend said to me years ago, the best way to kill someone is to get them to ride a bike and he wasn't a fan of cyclists but couldn't believe how drivers got off virtually scott-free.

FixTheBloodySite replied to dubwise | 3 months ago

"Pages and pages of results when googling “driver avoids jail”"

twowheelsbetter_uk replied to FixTheBloodySite | 3 months ago

I'd be happy with 1 year driving ban for every day someone spent in hospital with extended retest, criminal record that appears on DBS checks, lifelong january each year commuting by bike, additional 10% on insurance premium each year for life spent on cycle infrastructure/ safety.  Real consequences without clogging the prisons for careless driving.  Prison for dangerous driving.

twowheelsbetter_uk replied to dubwise | 3 months ago

I ride most days through the year in town and country, so I class myself a confident rider yet this type of incident  & consequences (and Dan Walker's) makes me feel sick and question whether its worth it.  I feel that most drivers are OK & shrug off MGIF, but carelessness really needs to have consequences to ensure standards improve.  I applaud Dame Sarah Storey and others with strong media profile who express the dismay/disgust I and others here feel about these incidents.

Very best wishes to Lauren and all who support her back into life and work.

Carior replied to twowheelsbetter_uk | 3 months ago
1 like

I actually agree - MGIF are what they are - its crappy but I kinda get that they know you're there and you might have some scope to take evasive action when it looks like their dumb move has been misjudged.  It's the ones who are simply oblivious or malevolant (but I don't think that's too many) that are really scary - there's literally nothing you can do about someone who ploughs through you from behind!

IanMK | 3 months ago

The Police have outsourced Road Safety to the insurance Industry. I believe that there are approximately 125,000 reported collisions on our roads every year. How many of these are genuine accidents and how many arose from from negligence (careless driving). Yet the police are not investigating and not asking the insurers for the findings of their investigation in order to prosecute.
I know a lad that has just written off his second car in less than a year since he passed his test. He won't even be on the police system.

Kirk Patric replied to IanMK | 3 months ago

Mnay arise from dangeous driving (when driving falls far below the minimum standard expected of a competent and careful driver, and includes behaviour that could potentially endanger yourself or other drivers.) rather than careless driving.

I note endangering cyclists and pedestrians isn't included in that Police Uk defintion, drivers can do what they like to them.

The police are usually reluctant to charge with dangerous driving and CPS/PF rarely upgrade the change to dangerous driving  so, even when the police do take action, drivers get away with paltry penalties

KentRider replied to IanMK | 3 months ago

Yes, exactly this. It’s easy to feel as cyclists that we are getting the brunt of it as we are more vulnerable, but the abysmal driving endlessly tolerated by the police affects all road users.

I was involved in a horrific car "accident" from which everyone was lucky to emerge alive. An oncoming driver drifted into my lane (distracted by something – it wasn’t an overtaking maneouvre), hit the car in front of me head-on, then somersaulted towards mine before rolling over my windscreen from one side of my car to the other, crushing the front end of my car.

The police elected not to prosecute the driver on the basis that she had nearly killed her own children in the crash and therefore had suffered enough. I was told it was an insurance matter only.

HoldingOn | 3 months ago

"Degloving" an innocuous word, until you understand its meaning. Then it conjures up some horrific images (including the one above)

Really glad she is on the mend.

Really angry that yet another driver escapes police punishment.

Really happy their insurance company is going to screw them to the wall.

Dicklexic replied to HoldingOn | 3 months ago

In my role as Health & Safety Rep at my work I have had to undertake several training courses, and 'degloving' incidents are always mentioned, with examples often displayed. It ALWAYS turns my stomach, and the example above is no exception! Right since my engineering apprenticeship days when I first became aware of such injuries, I have shuddered even at just hearing the word.

I hope Lauren can eventually make a full emotional and physical recovery.

ymm | 3 months ago

Utterly pathetic is how I would describe the police force in question. The legal system, and its players, are protecting criminals using cars from prosecution. This really makes you wonder about the state of our nation and reinforces the notion road crime isn't real crime, in the eyes of a institutionally pro-motoring legal system.

Rendel Harris | 3 months ago

Insurance companies are absolute bastards when it comes to payouts, it's their job to be essentially, to try and pay out as little as possible in order to maximise their profits. If the driver's insurance has agreed on a five figure interim payment, presumably with more to come, on the basis that the incident was the fault of the driver, without contesting any court case or tribunal, then how on earth can the police not take any further action?

jaymack | 3 months ago

I don't usually advocate in favour of having cameras front & back but this is precisely the sort of incident I had in mind when purchasing a set.

PRSboy | 3 months ago

On what basis did the police decide to take no action against the driver?  What gave them immunity from leaving the scene of an accident, and at the very least a charge of careless driving?  Or were they just never found...

FixTheBloodySite replied to PRSboy | 3 months ago

There has got to be forensic evidence of the bike being damaged consistent with a vehicle collision. Then there will be paint or plastic on her bike from the car.

PRSboy replied to FixTheBloodySite | 3 months ago

There's nothing online about why the Police have failed to bring charges.  Maybe someone in the Press should do some investigation rather than just regurgitating Irwin Mitchell's press release.

FixTheBloodySite | 3 months ago

"Police launched an investigation into the incident but decided not to take any further action against the motorist."

She didn't have lights or hi Viz
The driver does not remember any incident
Something, something only a cyclist.

brooksby replied to FixTheBloodySite | 3 months ago

Hirsute wrote:

"Police launched an investigation into the incident but decided not to take any further action against the motorist."

FFS surprise


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