Rhyl CC tragedy - Road Cycling UK

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Rhyl CC tragedy

As reported on www.londoncyclesport.com

Magistrates at Llandudno Court have fined the driver of the car that smashed into member’s of Ryhl CC, killing four with three counts of driving with defective tyres, giving Robert Harris (47) a £180 fine. The magistrates decided that defective tyres on the car did not cause the crash and that the incident was an accident.

More at – news.bbc.co.uk

The CTC have responded to the news of the fine with the press statement below.

Abergele driver fined £180
The driver of a car which in January this year collided with and killed four members of a group of cyclists near Abergele, has today been charged with having defective tyres and fined £180, reports CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation.

Robert Harris, 47, from Abergele, lost control on the road near his home on 8th January, where 12 members of Rhyl Cycling Club were on a training ride.
He admitted three counts of driving with defective tyres and was fined £180 at Llandudno Magistrates Court. Magistrates said during the hearing that the defective tyres “were not a contributory factor”.

At the time of the collision, the police reported that the driver was within the speed limit and had not been drinking; hence the fatalities were simply a tragic accident. Following protests from cycling organisations, the police apologised for these comments. Yet the courts have still had no opportunity to consider whether or not the speed was appropriate to the conditions.

CTC feels that the episode once again illustrates how road traffic law, and those responsible for its operation, need to reinforce the message that road users have a serious duty of care to one another, and that endangering other people’s lives on the roads is wholly unacceptable

CTC Campaigns & Policy Manager, Roger Geffen, said: “Our first thoughts are for the families of those killed in this terrible tragedy. It highlights the need for a serious overhaul of road traffic law and the priority given to its enforcement. Time and again when people are killed and seriously injured, the message given out by the legal system is that these incidents are nothing more than tragic “accidents”. The victims are disproportionately pedestrians and cyclists, the very forms of transport we most need to encourage for health and environmental reasons.”

The Government is proposing one change to the current framework of “bad driving offences” as part of the Road Safety Bill, which is expected to be passed in the autumn. This proposes the addition of an offence of “causing death by careless driving”, with a maximum sentence of 5 years. Whilst this is a well-intentioned step in the right direction, CTC feels it will still cause a great deal of confusion and under-sentencing, since “dangerous” (i.e. worse) driving which happens to maim rather than kill will still only have a maximum sentence of 2 years.

CTC, in common with other road safety organisations, believes that a thorough overhaul of bad driving offences is needed. Tougher penalties (including the use of long driving bans where appropriate) are needed for all offences where it is apparent from the manner of driving that the driver must have been aware of his/her potential to cause death or serious injury, regardless of the actual outcome.

Moreover, where death or very serious injury does in fact occur, the case should always be heard in the Crown Court, and not simply disposed of by magistrates (often without even mention that a death has occurred, as all-too-often happens at present). There should be an assumption that injury damages suffered by pedestrians and cyclists will be covered by the insurance scheme of the driver who hits them unless it can be shown that the pedestrian or cyclist acted irresponsibly or illegally, Finally, the Home Office and many individual police forces need to give far higher priority to road traffic policing.

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