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Jail for lorry driver dazzled by sun and on hands-free mobile call when he killed cyclist

Investigating officer says distraction caused by phone call may have contributed to fatal crash

A lorry driver who claimed to have been dazzled by the sun and was on a hands-free mobile phone call when he killed a cyclist in Cambridgeshire has been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.

Hilary Cox, aged 59, died in Addenbroooke’s Hospital, Cambridge on 4 December 2018, the day after she had been struck by a lorry driven by Marek Witulski on the A141, reports Cambs Times.

Mrs Cox had been cycling to her home in Chatteris after finishing her shift at the Green Welly Café on Doddington Road.

Wituslki’s lorry struck her bike’s handlebars as he overtook her, causing her to fall from her bike, sustaining serious head injuries.

The driver, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, brought his lorry to a halt further along the road because he had “heard a noise,” Peterborough Crown Court was told.

The court heard that during their investigation, police discovered that Witulski had been speaking to his wife on a hands-free mobile phone call.

While it is not illegal to make a voice call on a hands-free mobile phone while driving, police do sometimes use it as evidence of driver distraction contributing to a collision.

Witsulski also told officers at interview that the glare from the sun from the wet road had dazzled him, but he continued to drive despite the effect on his vision.

He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, and as well as the eight-month jail sentence was also banned from driving for two years and four months.

Sergeant Mark Dollard of Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “This case highlights the dangers of driving while distracted, particularly when the weather conditions are not favourable.

“Witulski was driving his HGV on a particularly sunny day, causing him to be dazzled. Instead of taking additional precautions he continued to drive as he would normally.

“He failed to see Mrs Cox on her bicycle, hitting her which tragically resulted in her death.

“This was compounded by the fact he was on his phone. It is accepted his phone was on loudspeaker and was being used hands-free, but he is going to have to spend the rest of his life wondering if this distraction caused him to not see Mrs Cox.

“I urge all drivers to ensure they pay careful attention to driving, and be particularly aware of vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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mdavidford | 4 years ago
1 like

At least they managed to prosecute, despite the driver's attempts to evade justice by going by three different names.

Avatar | 4 years ago

Eight months?  

Crikey!  Was Mrs Cox married to a councillor or a Chief Superintendant?

(with the greatest of sympathy to her loved ones)

Sriracha | 4 years ago
1 like

I was not my fault, m'Lud; how could I be expected to see the cyclist when I could not even see where I was going? Plus, I had to pay attention to what the calling party was saying on the phone - how can I be expected to pay attention to the road at the same time? Honestly, under those testing circumstances, would you have seen the cyclist?

eburtthebike | 4 years ago

If the death toll of cyclists was due to any other cause, there would be uproar.  Compare this to the programme on BBC tonight, where Panorama investigates killer motorways, the so-called smart motorways.

Sorry cyclists, you just don't count, and the chances of Panorama making a prog about the scandal that is the death rate of cyclists and the failure to prosecute dangerous cyclist killer drivers or to enforce the law, is slightly less than a snowball in a furnace.

ktache | 4 years ago

If he hadn't seen her because of the glare he wouldn't have been overtaking and would have just driven straight up her arse.

Just another awful driver, professional, yet driving distracted, who is so awful at driving they killed someone.  Yet still attempted to blame the weather, but if he'd taken it before a jury who knows.

My deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Hilary Cox.



kil0ran | 4 years ago

Shit comments from a traffic officer - again. If you can't see, don't fucking drive. Always be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear.

hawkinspeter replied to kil0ran | 4 years ago

It amazes me that drivers complain about the glare from the road, yet don't seem to understand that polarised sunglasses will completely solve that issue. How hard is it to keep a pair of driving sunglasses in your vehicle?

TheBillder replied to kil0ran | 4 years ago
1 like

This is so simple, yet so many just don't get it. I speak to drivers who think that the speed limit is actually a rule for how fast they should go, entirely unrelated to how far they can see or their ability to stop. When asked what they would do if a broken down tractor was just around the corner, they mutter about how that's never happened.

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