A driver in Wiltshire who sped through a red traffic light outside a school, almost hitting a child who was crossing the road on their bike, has been fined after pleading guilty to careless driving, but social media users have expressed shock that he escaped a driving ban and was not charged with dangerous driving.
In a post on Facebook, Swindon Police said that the motorist, Jody New, was fined £307 at Swindon Magistrates’ Court last Friday and had his driving licence endorsed with six penalty points.
The 45 year old from Harbour Close in Swindon was also ordered to pay a £34 victim surcharge and £110 in costs as a result of the incident, which happened on Peglars Way outside The Deanery CE Academy school at 3.37pm on 28 April this year.
Dashcam footage captured by a driver who stopped at the traffic lights show that the lights turned from green to amber for three seconds, and just before they turned red, two students from the school began crossing the road on their bikes.
While the video has no sound, three other pupils from the school who were walking on the footway appear to have become aware of New approaching the lights – by now red – at speed in a convertible car with the hood down, all three turning to look in the direction he was coming from, and one pointing towards the road.
Just before New reached the junction, the second of the cyclists riding through the crossing braked, the momentum throwing him forward slightly, the driver barely missing him as he sped through the traffic lights and, in the words of Wiltshire Police, “ then screeched round the corner,” a full three seconds after the lights had turned red.
“We’d like to thank the member of the public who came forward to report the incident and for the dashcam footage,” officers added.
The video has received more than 100 comments on Swindon Police’s Facebook page, many wondering why New did not receive a ban from driving, with one saying: “Awful driving. Should've lost his licence for that.”
Others asked why he was not charged with the more serious offence of dangerous driving, which is committed “when the defendant’s driving falls far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious that driving in that way would be dangerous.”
One said: “Bearing in mind he made a conscious decision to jump the red light and endanger a child’s life why wasn't this dangerous driving?”
It’s a point that is supported by the Crown Prosecution Service’s own website, which gives “some typical examples from court cases of dangerous driving,” one of which is “ignoring traffic lights.”
Examples of the lesser offence of careless driving, committed when “the defendant's driving falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver,” include “driving through a red light by mistake” – which is clearly not the case here.
Another comment read: “I don’t understand how these sentences are given! Surely the fact this could have been a major accident with a child involved should make this a much more serious motor offence than a fine? Even running a red light without the fact that people were in danger should be more than a fine.”
And one woman pointed out that had it not been for the young cyclist’s awareness and quick thinking, the consequences of New’s driving could have been fatal, writing: “It's a good job the child realised he wasn't going to stop and paused. The speed he was going, could have been a death otherwise.”
Located on the Wichelstowe development that has been built in recent years on the edge of Swindon between the town’s existing southern suburbs and the M4 motorway, The Deanery CE Academy opened in September 2019 with a Year 7 intake (ages 11-12), with successive year groups being added each year.
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.