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Slow down when driving into the sun, urges Cycling UK

In the past week alone two drivers convicted of killing cyclists have cited low sun as an excuse

With the clocks going back this weekend, Cycling UK is urging motorists to slow down when they are driving towards the sun.

The national cycling charity says that “dazzling sun” was cited as a contributory factor in the deaths of 17 cyclists in 2020, compared to four the previous year.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “A four-fold increase in deaths with a contributory factor of ‘dazzling sun’ is alarming and could be avoided by driving more carefully. 

“Cycling UK would encourage anyone dazzled by the sun to drop your speed, and where appropriate and safe to do so, stop until they have clear visibility of the road again.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is to cause another person’s death due to being dazzled. Please take appropriate precautions, and keep you and others safe in doing so.”

Cycling UK is also urging drivers to consider:

giving as much room as practically possible when overtaking (at least    a car’s width) due to need of cyclists to manoeuvre around drains, potholes    and other road debris;

giving more in wet weather when surfaces will be more slippery and

using dipped headlights when approaching people cycling as they would for other road users.

While the Highway Code tells motorists to drive to the conditions, in the past week alone on road.cc we’ve covered two stories in which drivers convicted of killing cyclists – one of whom was speeding –  blamed the sun being in their eyes as a factor in the fatal crashes.

In each case, the drivers were handed suspended jail sentences, causing the families of the victims to question the justice system.

Last week, Victoria Hamer, 26, was convicted of causing the death by dangerous driving of cyclist Lorraine Barrow in Somerset, and said that she did not see the rider because the sun was in her eyes – although the court heard that the motorist speeding at the time of the crash.

> “The justice system has let my beloved Lorraine down,” says widower after speeding driver who killed his wife given suspended

Earlier this week, we reported how motorist Lowri Powell – who likewise blamed she had been blinded by the low sun – was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, after she was convicted of causing the death by careless driving of 61-year-old cyclist Paul James in April 2019.

> End “us versus them” culture to improve safety of cyclists, urges Welsh Government minister

Powell hit Mr James – a Plaid Cymru councillor for Ceredigion and former paratrooper – from behind, causing him to come off his bike and fall into the path of another car, causing fatal injuries.

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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