Monday, March 03, 2008

You be the judge

The traffic lights were green. No reason to stop the car. She was driving within the speed limit as she began to cross the junction. Just at that moment she looked down to her mobile phone to read a text message. And just at that same moment a teenage cyclist rode across her path. She hit him and he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

The driver has been jailed for 4 years for causing death by driving without due care and attention whilst using a mobile phone.

Now let’s look at the facts.

1. Using a mobile phone whilst driving is an offence under UK law, and attracts a fixed penalty fine of £60

2. It is recommended that cyclists wear helmets. This cyclist did not.

3. The cyclist jumped a red traffic light.

So this is my question. Should the motorist have received a jail sentence, or would the standard £60 fine have been more appropriate? After all, the cyclist should not have ignored the red light and ridden in front of her, and in any case, had he been wearing a helmet it is quite possible he would have survived. Surely the only crime committed by the driver was to use a phone whilst driving.

This actually happened a few days ago and has led to an enormous amount of debate and media comment. What's your opinion? It's over to you!


  1. perhaps it's because the cyclist died that she received the penalty. they were both wrong, yet to pay a fine for a death incurred i believe would seem offensive to the family of the deceased.

    whatever the case, the cyclist lost his life, and her life will never be the same again. both have paid a price.

  2. I know nothing about the case other than what you've just told us. The woman was convicted of "causing death by driving without due care and attention..." , so it's hardly true to say her only crime was using a mobile phone. The reason we're not supposed to use them while driving is there is a danger of this very kind of thing happening. Sad and tragic for everyone involved.

  3. From your explanation Keith, the driver would likely have been charged with Involuntary Manslaughter here in the states. Sounds a most unfortunate occurrence for all involved.

  4. This was a very unfortunate incidence. Both needed to be punished. She got hers, and she will also live with it all her life now. That could be wors.
    The cyclist got his form of punishment for going against rules and being reckless its tough to say who should be punished harder.

    Have got to say, after reading this, it puts a sense of sadness...but I just luuuurvvve your cursor...its so bright and cheerful. Always look forward to the next one.

  5. Would there be as much controversy if she'd run over a toddler who'd run out in the middle of the street?

  6. I remember a case decades ago when a driver of a Land Rover was over the drink driving limit and, coming up a high street, knocked over and killed a woman.
    A policeman saw everything and testified that even if sober, he'd have stood no chance of avoiding her. She'd walked straight into the road without looking.
    He was very lucky, and found guilty only of drink driving. As, in this case, it should have been.

  7. This was so unfortunate.. but I put myself in the position of the Jury and I cant help agree with them.. The cyclist was at fault but got his punishment. Her fault was equally serious too.. so shouldn't she be punished. Her carelessness caused a death!

  8. Hi Keith. First, thanx for reading some of my ramblings. Regarding the woman who hit the person on the bike, I really think she deserved the time in jail. She could have avoided the accident all together. Cell phone usage while driving distracts one from the road. Multi-tasking is not an asset while behind the wheel. Statistics show that deaths at the hands of people on phones is very high so maybe this will be a lesson to others.

    I enjoyed reading your material. Good stuff.

  9. Okay I am sure there are going to be people who aren't going to agree with me and I really don't care. This is for opinions and we are all entitled. So here it is. First things first. I believe that maybe four years of being in jailed was harsh, however he/she should have served a short sentence followed by community service and paid a fine.

    Yes the biker should have been wearing a helmet and abiding the laws of the road while riding the bike. However that is not what happened what happened is the biker lost their lives cause a driver who should have been responsible enough to keep her/his eyes on the road took them off to read a text message. Keep off the cell phones while you are driving and text messaging has no business going on while your driving. Sorry for my rant.

  10. I pretty much agree with Jadey. However, the law as written probably should have been abided by. Here in the states the laws vary from state to state but the punishment usually increases according to the severity of the incident. The death of someone, regardless of his/her own "contributory negligence" (a popular phrase amongst attorneys over here - we are such a lawsuit-happy country) would certainly garner at least some jail time.

    And I second Prats' comment as well: I do love to see that pretty cursor when I come here. How does one get a cursor like that?

  11. In Holland it is the law that even if the bike makes a mistake the car is always wrong, because the bike is in an vulnarable position and also I think because many bikers are young people. I think it is a good law. People are very careful therefore so that these drama's don't happen too often

  12. ah another debate, I rest my case...follow the rules unless you want to stare death in the face...



Dear WORDPRESS friends. If you are having difficulty posting please 'Comment as' either:-

a) Name/URL
b) Anonymous with your name included in your comment.

Thank you!