Friday, January 7, 2011

Boxer Gary Mason Dies in Cycle Crash

Former boxing champion Gary Mason was killed on Thursday morning (6 Jan) while cycling in Wallington. The driver of a white Vauxhall Combi van was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.
I wonder if this was the same driver of a white Vauxhall Combi van that I reported to the police earlier this week on Roadsafe London for using a handheld mobile phone while driving? If so, he'll be getting a polite letter from the police to ask him to kindly obey the law in future. Too late. Not that it likely would have made any difference.

Many drivers don't think speeding or mobile phone use is a big deal, and however they drive it's up to other people to get out of their way. That's because there's not been a sustained Government campaign to stamp out these offences. With speeding, the Government are pressing ahead to remove speed cameras against the evidence and against the advice of anyone who knows anything about road safety. The prevailing attitude on mobile phone use is that everybody does it. According to the RAC, 28% of drivers admit to using a handheld mobile while driving. The reality is it is likely as dangerous as drink driving. Stand by any road and you'll see drivers using mobile phones, some of them doing so while they ineptly try to make a turn one-handed, in blissful ignorance of what's going on around them. If the Government wanted to, it could employ wardens to dish out penalties, and the scheme would be self-financing with the fine revenue, even before you factored in the reduction in costs to society from fewer crashes.

We don't yet know how Gary died. Was the driver speeding? Was he using a mobile phone? One thing is for sure: this Government is more interested in milking the 'war on the motorist' myth dry than stopping people dying needlessly on the roads from other people's criminal behaviour, and it's people like Gary and his family and friends who pay the price. They will likely get nothing approximating to justice either: based on previous cases, if found guilty the perpetrator will get a fine and a short driving ban, and he'll be free to kill again shortly. War on the motorist? People die in wars. The people dying in this war are the victims of criminal motorists, and as in most wars, the politicians are more concerned with the poll numbers than the body count.


  1. Sad, really sad.

    War on the motorist? People die in wars. The people dying in this war are the victims of criminal motorists

    Couldn't agree more. Phillip Hammond has a lot to answer for, as does his employer for putting the tit in a position of responsibility.

  2. 'The people dying in this war are the victims of criminal motorists'

    There is an unjustifiable imbalance in the excessively lenient penalties for killing cyclists and pedestrians, when compared with taking human life by any other means. Plus the victims are often held responsible to some extent.
    'The cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet.'
    There is research that supports this anomaly in the law:
    “....Nationally four times as many RTA fatalities occur as homicides in Britain, yet there are less convictions for lethal motoring offences than homicide offences. Convicted drivers typically receive a lesser sentences than other comparable criminals, and often receive a monetary fine with no detention sentence at all. ...”
    ....What has come to light may be summarised as follows. Drivers who kill 'merely' through carelessness are regarded by the judiciary as unlucky but often blameless: an implicit empathy – “There, but for the Grace of God, go I” – is evident. However, driving offenders who are also implicated in vehicle theft or drink and drug abuse are likely to be condemned by judges and magistrates as 'real' criminals, even if their standard of driving was no lower. Meanwhile vulnerable road users may be held unfairly responsible for their fate: cyclists have been blamed for wearing dark clothing or no helmet despite it being the car and not the cycle which creates the danger, just as rape victims are blamed for wearing revealing clothing despite it being the attacker and not the victim who commits the assault....

    Source: A Critical Review of the Legal Penalties for Drivers Who Kill Cyclists or Pedestrians
    J Voelcker School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol (April 2007)

  3. It would be interesting to know what the Dept of Transport estimates will be the increase in mean speed and the consequent impact on the number of cyclists involved in RTAs?
    Can i ask if the superhighways is increasing the number of cyclists or not making any difference from your experience ?

  4. @Steve -
    Number of cyclists is significantly increasing in London year-on-year. How much of the increase is due to the CSHs is unclear: TfL claim a 25%+ increase on the CSH routes.