The back to front world of British road traffic law

road danger

Road danger reduction in Britain is as politically toxic as gun control in America.

Why else would the offence of riding an e-scooter on the road attract a £300 ticket, confiscation, £600 costs to get the scooter back and six penalty points when drivers who kill routinely walk free with little more than a ticking off?

Examples of ludicrously lenient sentencing of drivers who kill are so numerous it’s hard to pick one. How about the driver in 2017 who while parking, and travelling at an estimated 5mph, not only managed to collide with a woman, but continued driving until the car had passed over her body – killing her in the process. The same driver had previously been banned from driving twice. At the time of the fatal crash, the driver was banned from driving and uninsured.

Sentencing, Judge Mark Brown told the defendant: ‘This is on any view a very sad and tragic case. You drove your car looking for a space and your vehicle collided with her and you then drove over her body. I have no doubt this has all happened within the blink of an eye.”

A collision report concluded that the defendant was driving at about 5 mph and there were no defects with the vehicle.

| “One man in Britain continued to drive legally with 62 points on his licence”

The judge summed up by saying ‘I hope you have learned a profound lesson’ before allowing the defendant to walk free with an 18-month driving ban – that’s a ban, on top of a ban on top of a third ban. A recent Freedom of Information Request sent out by the BBC, found 203 people in Britain were still driving despite accumulating more than 18 points. One man in Britain continued to drive legally with 62 points on his licence.

Christopher Gard was texting at the wheel when he killed cyclist Lee Martin. Gard had six previous convictions for mobile phone use at the wheel, and was allowed to continue driving by the magistrates court after pleading exceptional hardship. At least the farsical nature of British road traffic law appears to be applied without fear or favour. You can run down and kill a peer of the realm as they use a zebra crossing, plead guilty to driving without due care and yet still escape with little more than a short ban.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn was on a zebra crossing outside the House of Lords when the driver of lorry struck and killed him.

Sentencing the driver at the Old Bailey, Judge Anuja Dhir QC said: “The size of the vehicle you were driving and the weather conditions on that day should have meant that you were even more careful than you would normally be. You were not.” And yet the penalty handed down amounted to little more than some community service and a driving ban.

road danger

Recent articles of ours highlighting the case of a four-year-old girl on a footpath killed by a delivery driver who didn’t want to obstruct traffic attracted a barrage of criticism – one comment on this website accused us of being ‘rabid militants’.

To such people we say please watch our short film about road danger.

Stop Killing our Children from ETA on Vimeo.The police are under-funded and hampered by an inadequate legal framework – both symptoms of the complete absence of any systematic approach to road danger reduction. Little wonder there is such institutionalised apathy towards death and injury on the roads.

Ethical insurance

Not only are we judged to be Britain’s most ethical provider, we campaign for sustainable transport. Sometimes that means protesting until a school gets the zebra crossing they’ve been refused, or running 60 roadshows this year to encourage people out of their cars, or fixing bicycles for free. Supporting this work is easy – you simply take out insurance with us. Browse our products


  1. Colin Green


    The vast majority of Judges, Government Ministers, other politicians, top Civil Servants and most members of a jury are motorists – not cyclists or E-scooter users. You look after your own and to hell with the rest.

    • The ETA


      So true. We can’t think of another crime that is tried by folk who are themselves routinely guilty of the same type of offence.

  2. Tony Williams


    The cases you’ve quoted appear weird, which is no doubt why you selected them. To redress the balance, take the case of the man driving a double-deck coach, which was taking a party of students from a south coast town to an event in Birmingham. They’d set off at about 5.00 in the morning. On a section of so-called “smart” motorway on the M1 he crashed into a car that was parked on the hard shoulder. Three passengers in the car were killed Less than a mile back the hard shoulder had been a lane, and he missed a sign telling drivers to move out of it onto the normal lane 1. CCTV showed a lorry driver who also missed the sign and stayed on the hard shoulder, but he spotted the car ahead and moved out. The coach driver, who was aged about 76, got seven years. That doesn’t support your assertion that drivers who kill routinely walk free.

    • The ETA


      By routinely we mean regularly and often rather than in every single case. Seems entirely proper that a professional driver who fails to see a stationary vehicle in his path and kills numerous people receives a custodial sentence, but all too often this is not the case. Perhaps take the time to watch the documentary film we made on this very subject. In it you will hear the testimony of people who had family members killed by drivers and struggled to receive justice. Here’s a link to the film

  3. Dave Holladay


    One area where I’m putting my experience of over 50 years working in engineering and transport, is reviewing crashes, and road design/management with an aim to analyse, objectively, the causal factors, and hazards that can be eliminated or managed in ways to reduce the risk they pose

    It is for example a basic fact that around 80% of fatal HGV-cycle crashes are initiated by the HGV driver hitting the REAR of the bike, and the victim going under the FRONT of the truck – perfectly aligned to be crushed under 1 or more of the 8-10 Ton axles. Yet no one has been pressing for the obvious (and completely deliverable for c.£3000-£5000 per truck) fitting of under-run protection, like that fitted to trams, and trains (AKA lifeguards … wonder why they get that name?). Instead we get totally misinformed, and victim-blaming rubbish about riding up the inside. Other key factors include road layouts that have small radius, and obtuse angle junctions, which require the HGV drivers to violate the road space in which others expect to have priority and ‘negotiate’ (or more likely force) their way to drive at or through a cyclist, pedestrian or even a car driver. So far in London only 2 ‘full lock left turn’ junctions have had HGV left turns banned, in one case after 2 identical deaths in 5 years after a change in the road layout. Yet there are dozens of junctions across London with this ‘time bomb’ for a fatality, which could be surveyed and eliminated or changed

    Far too often the Coroner (a lay person with little crash investigation knowledge) fails to use the Section 28 report option to secure additional detail, and assurance for changes being made for the ‘Prevention of Future Deaths’ This is often resisted by the Council’s legal team, and others present at the inquest, as was attempted for a fatal crash with a bus on the Greenwich Busway in January 2016, just 8 weeks after a completely identical crash left the victim ALSO a middle aged woman, ALSO walking from the local school to the local shops, and ALSO crossing the busway at the same place, trapped under the bus. My site visit revealed a litany of signs in disrepair, wrongly used, or even removed deliberately, and a zebra crossing never completed, and then erased. Especially damning is the fact that a near fatal crash failed to engage the Royal Borough, TfL (who run the busway) or HSE (as the busway is a private road & this HSAW1974 applies) in any investigation of that first crash, and take action – making the fatal crash totally avoidable.

    As the film especially highlights, we have 40-60 deaths per year when drivers allow their vehicle to leave the carriageway and violate the footway or nearby property. The tacit acceptance of the offence of driving a carriage on a footway (Section72 Highways Act 1835) is seen everywhere with ‘carriages’ routinely driven on and parked on footways with impunity. Time perhaps for this question to be asked at a few more inquests?

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