Three killed on first day of 2015
Just days into the New Year, three cyclists have already been killed on UK roads. On New Year’s Day a man was killed while riding his bike along a dual carriageway near Liphook in Hampshire. The incident is one of three in the past week in which cyclists have died.
Also on New Year's Day a 23-year-old man died after he was in collision with a Ford Focus car in St Leonards, East Sussex, and a 79-year-old cyclist from Fairwarp, East Sussex, died after he was in collision with a Renault Megane.
Around 19,000 cyclists are hurt in road accidents in this country every year, with around 3,000 of them killed or seriously injured.
Failed to look properly
In collisions involving a bicycle and another vehicle, the most common key contributory factor recorded by the police is 'failed to look properly' by either the driver or rider, especially at junctions. 'Failed to look properly' was attributed to the car driver in 57% of serious collisions and to the cyclist in 43% of serious collisions at junctions.
The most common vehicle involved in collisions with cyclists is a car or taxi, with the rider usually being hit by the front of the vehicle. In a quarter of fatal cyclist accidents, the front of the vehicle hit the rear of the bicycle.
Figures from all 45 police forces in the UK show that more than a quarter of those found guilty over cyclist deaths did not receive driving bans. Of those found guilty, 44% went to prison. The average jail sentence was less than two years, while the average length of driving ban was 22 months. For 26% of drivers, no ban was imposed.
Tougher penalties needed
British Cycling and campaigners say drivers are being let off too lightly and want tougher penalties. Ex-Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman said: "Our legal system doesn't support fully enough the more vulnerable road user and it doesn't reflect the responsibility people have when they drive a car. If you seriously injure someone or behave badly on the roads then I think we should see an awful lot more licences taken away, and I think that would very quickly improve behaviour."
A spokeswoman for the AA said: "The courts already have a wide range of sentences that they can give to drivers who kill cyclists, whether it's through careless or dangerous driving.”
The maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is 14 years and five years for death by careless driving.