It has been a bad month for road danger. The media circus surrounding the tragic death of a woman in London who died following a collision involving a cyclist has prompted the Government to order an urgent review of cycling and the law, and write to all major cycling organisations to ask them to remind their members to respect the highway code.
Nothing wrong with any of that you might think. However, in the wider context of the leniency shown to drivers who kill or injure, and the desperate need for a complete overhaul of the legal framework and policing that is required if road danger is to be reduced for everyone, the inconsistency is more than a little disappointing. Given that of 1,730 people killed on British roads in 2015 just two – 0.12% – were killed in collisions with cyclists, it appears that transport minister Jesse Norman is being driven by media obsessions rather than fact.
The cyclist in the case was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, since then, in separate incidents, a driver has been convicted of running over and killing a 5-year-old girl as she walked on the pavement. He received 16 weeks in prison. Another lorry driver ran into a teenage girl causing life-changing injuries before fleeing the scene. He escaped prison and was handed a £500 fine. And most recently, a parent who became angry at being prevented from driving into the school grounds deliberately ran over a teacher – throwing him into the air. He was driving a car with not insurance or MOT and used his vehicle as weapon against the teacher with potentially lethal consequences. He received a sentence of 10 months in prison.
Almost as appalling as the incident itself, which is pictured at the top of this page, has been the reaction to this story by some drivers who feel the teacher was somehow to blame. One twitter user suggested the absence of a bollard was to blame, a comment that was supported by Surrey police.
At a school not far from the ETA office, drivers park on the zebra crossing on the road outside the gates while they drop off their kids. Unfortunately, nobody is in a position to put bollards in the middle of the road to prevent this happening and neither should the school in the news article above have to fortify itself in order to protect itself from angry drivers.
Nothing that Jesse Norman has done is wrong. However, the charity Roadpeace believes the forthcoming review of the law relating to cycling is likely to displace the government’s wider sentencing review. If so, the government is seeking to ignore the cause of more than 99% of road deaths to focus on just 0.12% of them. If we are to reduce danger on our roads for everyone’s benefit, let’s not be back to front about it.
Britain’s most ethical insurance company
The ETA has been voted Britain’s most ethical insurance company 2017.
The Good Shopping Guide each year reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of the world’s companies and brands, with a view to supporting the growth of social responsibility and ethical business as well as a more sustainable, just society.
Beating household-name insurance companies such as John Lewis and the Co-op, we earned an ethical company index score of 89 – earning us joint-first place with Naturesave.
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The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Twenty seven years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.