Calls for new measures and tougher action to reduce cyclist deaths

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Calls for new measures and tougher action to reduce cyclist deaths

14th January 2011

A road safety expert has joined calls for the introduction of new technology and greater legal safeguards for cyclists following the death of former British heavyweight boxing champion Gary Mason, who died when he was knocked off his bike last week.

Joanna Bailey, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP and spokesperson for road safety charity Brake, spoke in support of Martin Porter QC's views on wanting to see stiffer sentences for drivers responsible for fatal and near-fatal accidents involving cyclists.

"It would appear that driver's excuses for not seeing cyclists are often too readily accepted by the police and the CPS these days," said Joanna. "There are many areas where the law seems to let cyclists down, whether this involves police failing to collect enough evidence, the CPS failing to prosecute or the courts convicting on a lesser offence. This needs to change."

The calls came after the 48-year-old boxing champion became the first London cyclist to die this year, after being hit by a van in Sandy Lane South in Wallington at 6.15am on 6 January. The 43-year-old driver who stopped at the scene was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving and bailed until March pending further inquiries. A post-mortem revealed Mr Mason had died from multiple injuries. An inquest is due to take place at Croydon Coroner's Court.

"Residents said a number of complaints had been made to the council and local MP about the apparently 'confusing' junction, intersecting three roads whose white line markings are reportedly frequently ignored by drivers speeding off the main road," said Joanna.

A campaign entitled 'See Me, Save Me' is currently underway to have sensors and cameras fitted to lorries to reduce blind-spots in an effort to cut the number of cyclist deaths and injuries in the UK and Europe each year.

"If all commercial vehicles had sensors and cameras fitted, drivers would be more likely to spot cyclists around their vehicles," said Joanna. "With over 2000 cyclists killed on EU roads last year, together with increasing amounts of lorry traffic, this campaign is clearly needed."

The campaign was started by Fiona Hall MEP after she spoke to the family of Eilidh Cairns, who was struck and killed by a heavy goods vehicle whilst cycling to work in London. The MEP submitted a declaration to the European Union on 10 November 2010 requesting that it be compulsory for sensors and cameras to be fitted to all heavy goods vehicles. If by 17 February 2011 more than half of MEPs sign the declaration, the Commission will have to make proposals to change the law.

"It is imperative we raise awareness of the dangers cyclists and pedestrians face as a result of blind spots on commercial vehicles," said Joanna. "The fact that technology involving sensors and cameras is available means the injuries and deaths we see each day caused by accidents of this nature are not only tragic but totally unnecessary as well."

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to road traffic accidents.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

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