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Motorist banned for six months after leaving cyclist with multiple fractures and bruised lungs in “momentary lapse of concentration”

The driver, who administered first aid to the stricken cyclist, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was also sentenced to 70 hours of community service

A Jersey schoolteacher has been banned from driving for six months and ordered to complete 70 hours of community service after hitting and seriously injuring a cyclist who was riding in front of them on a downhill section of road, leaving the rider with multiple broken bones and bruised lungs.

51-year-old Michaela Julie Jones was driving on Rue de la Vallée de St Pierre in St Peter, Jersey, at around 7am on 29 November 2022 when she struck the cyclist, who sustained broken ribs, bruised lungs, a broken ankle, and a fracture to part of his pelvis in the crash, the Bailiwick Express reports.

The Magistrate’s Court in Greffe heard this week that the cyclist had been riding just in front of Jones on a descent prior to the collision and was “well lit” in the dark conditions. However, the motorist failed to see the cyclist, crashing into him as he began to turn right.

Advocate Debbie Corbel, defending, pointed out to the court that Jones had administered first aid to the stricken cyclist before the ambulance arrived, and “pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and took responsibility immediately”.

Corbel also said that the schoolteacher had been driving for 32 years and had never been involved in a collision before, and argued that the crash was due to “a momentary lapse in concentration”.

The advocate added that Jones, who admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, was sometimes required to drive a minibus as part of her teaching job, and suggested an endorsement of her licence rather than a disqualification.

> Driver spared jail after killing cyclist in “momentary lapse of concentration”

Assistant Magistrate Adam Clarke said he was taking into account Jones’ early guilty plea and previous clean record, but noted that “there can be little doubt that the injuries were considerable”.

Jones was driving at between 25mph and 30mph at the time of a collision, with Clarke adding: “This was not at low speed, even if it was within the speed limit. This was a serious incident that could have been worse.”

He imposed 70 hours of community service and banned Jones from driving for six months, while also ordering her to retake a driving test at the conclusion of her ban.

Last June, in a similar incident – with altogether graver consequences – a motorist was spared jail after killing a cyclist by “inexplicably” cutting across her path in what was also described in court as a “momentary lapse of concentration”.

Patricia Goulden was handed a suspended prison sentence, as well as being banned from driving for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, for causing the death of 43-year-old cyclist Louise Harrott, who was riding on the Huddersfield Road in Oldham in March 2021 when Goulden, driving a Range Rover, turned across her path and struck her.

Harrott was airlifted from the scene of the crash and taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary for surgery, but died from her injuries the following morning.

“This tragic accident was caused by a lapse of concentration by you. However, there is no explanation or reason why you failed to see Louise,” the judge told Goulden in court before sentencing her to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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24 comments

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Grahamd | 4 months ago
2 likes

Unless I have missed it the article, I am somewhat concerned that providing first aid appears of no consequence given others aspects of lesser importance appear to have been given credit:

"He said he took into account Jones’s early guilty plea and previous clean record,"

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Jetmans Dad replied to Grahamd | 4 months ago
1 like
Grahamd wrote:

Unless I have missed it the article, I am somewhat concerned that providing first aid appears of no consequence given others aspects of lesser importance appear to have been given credit:

"He said he took into account Jones’s early guilty plea and previous clean record,"

Well ... pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity shows a willingness to take responsibility, and a previous clean record indicates no recorded history of poor or illegal driving. Administering first aid is simple humanity and should be the least we expect of anyone in this situation ... and confirms they at least didn't flee the scene. 

Not sticking around at the scene of an accident is not an aggravating factor, it is a separate offence all of its own for which an increased sentence can be given. Ergo, reducing the sentence for sticking around and giving first aid doesn't require a reduction. 

Or, at least, that is how I understand it ... but Jersey law may be different of course. 

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mctrials23 replied to Jetmans Dad | 4 months ago
4 likes

Both of those things are largely neither here nor there. I know plenty of shit drivers with a clean record and I know plenty of good drivers with points for speeding. Pleading guilty at an early point is also just being of sound mind. You clearly are treated more favourably and when you are guilty, dead to rights, what is the benefit to doing anything but this. 

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Simon E replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
4 likes
mctrials23 wrote:

Both of those things are largely neither here nor there. I know plenty of shit drivers with a clean record and I know plenty of good drivers with points for speeding.

What's "good" about a driver who has points for speeding?

They obviously don't pay attention to speed limit signs. Considering how rare it is to get caught for speeding nowadays they are likely a frequent offender so possibly a risk to themselves and others.

While they may be more skilful and/or show greater awareness than average (which is setting the bar quite low) but that doesn't magically cancel out breaking the law on multiple occasions.

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mctrials23 replied to Simon E | 4 months ago
0 likes

Someone who does 75 on a motorway isn't instantly a bad driver. If they increased the speed limit to 80 tomorrow would driving at 75 magically become fine whereas today it makes you a bad driver.  

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SaneRebel replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
2 likes

And then they would drive at 85 not 75.

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Cugel replied to Simon E | 4 months ago
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Simon E wrote:
mctrials23 wrote:

Both of those things are largely neither here nor there. I know plenty of shit drivers with a clean record and I know plenty of good drivers with points for speeding.

What's "good" about a driver who has points for speeding?

They obviously don't pay attention to speed limit signs. Considering how rare it is to get caught for speeding nowadays they are likely a frequent offender so possibly a risk to themselves and others.

While they may be more skilful and/or show greater awareness than average (which is setting the bar quite low) but that doesn't magically cancel out breaking the law on multiple occasions.

When the various drivist hooners, incompetants and others making me wish fervently that I'd never got into their car blare out that, "I'm a good driver, me!" the question has been put to them, "What makes a good driver?" Answers vary but are rarely precise or even coherent. Most can be summed up as, "Well, I just am." And, as various surveys show, 90% of drivers think that they're better than the average driver (whatever that might be).

I've garnered a set of attributes over the years that seem well-founded as a basis for defining "a good driver". But these attributes, despite having largely come from professional drivers of various kinds who seem to have arrived at them in a considered and experienced fashion, are not the attributes that most drivists mention during their confusd pugles about their own "good driving".

What would those here list as the attributes, parameters, behaviors, attitudes and so forth of "a good driver"? It would be very interesting to know.   1

 

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Car Delenda Est replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
4 likes
mctrials23 wrote:

I know plenty of good drivers with points for speeding.  

No you don't..

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mattw | 4 months ago
2 likes

The Jersey one is a Curate's Egg.

1 - The Guilty plea to Dangerous Driving but it was "a momentary lapse of concentration" is strange. In he UK that would have been plea-bargained down to Careless.

2 - "driving down the hill, with the cyclist just in front of her" sounds like following too closely rather than "not seeing the cyclist".

3 - The punishment seems lenient, but nuanced with both a driving ban and a requirement to retake the test.

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cmedred | 4 months ago
9 likes

Part of the sentence should have been a requirement she ride a bike to work for the next six months given that studies have shown cyclists make better drivers:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00014575173024This would likely be far more effective than making her retake the driving test which does nothing to deal with the growing problem of inattention while driving.  People are attentive then because they are being watched. Afterward, they go back to doing what so many drivers do these days which is pay attention to all sorts of things other than their driving.

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 4 months ago
4 likes

'The advocate added that Jones, who admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving, was sometimes required to drive a minibus as part of her teaching job, and suggested an endorsement of her licence rather than a disqualification.'
 

nice try. 

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NOtotheEU | 4 months ago
15 likes

". . . . Jones . . . . was sometimes required to drive a minibus as part of her teaching job,"

Lets hope she doesn't have a 'momentary lapse of concentration' when she's driving a minibus full of kids.

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wtjs | 4 months ago
13 likes

It was "only a momentary loss of concentration" was the routine dodge deployed by the police to avoid taking any action against the driver who hit me (a stationary cyclist waiting in the correct position to exit the Sainsbury's access road onto the main road) while cutting the corner and coming down the wrong side of the road. This is a typical police trick. Mine was December 2018, but they're clearly still using it

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mctrials23 | 4 months ago
11 likes

Every one of these fucking sentences just sends the message that you don't need to pay attention when you're driving. If you intentionally hit a cyclist or drive intentionally dangerously you might get a short prison sentence. If you just weren't really paying attention, don't worry, it happens to all of us, have a little time off driving eh. 

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HollisJ replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
6 likes

The thing that really worries me is what's to stop someone driving a car intentionally hitting someone on a bike and just using the smidsy excuse?

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Cycloid replied to HollisJ | 4 months ago
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I think that happens all the time.

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Jetmans Dad replied to Cycloid | 4 months ago
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Cycloid wrote:

I think that happens all the time.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Hanlon's razor.

On a more practical note ... how many drivers would willingly subject their beloved horseless carriage to the possibility of expensive damage by hitting a cyclist with it?

I am willing to believe that a significant number of incidents are caused by drivers wanting to intimidate or "punish" a rider and miscalculating distance or speed leading to a collision, but I have a hard time believing that those who go ballistic at the idea of a cyclist touching their wing (door) mirror would deliberately damage their vehicle by causing a collision. 

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mctrials23 replied to HollisJ | 4 months ago
4 likes

I genuinely think that this almost never happens. I would suggest that 99.9% of incidents with cars and bikes are from poor decision making and lack of understanding.

A guy who passed me so closely that I could bang on the side of his car couldn't fathom how his overtake was dangerous because "I didn't hit you did I?".

I think people are largely inattentive and very impatient and occasionally that goes wrong. It shouldn't be an excuse because there is no excuse for not paying attention when you are driving but they are usually genuine mistakes or misjudgements. 

Whenever you drive on the motorway I assume you see the same thing as me. A huge number of people driving like complete bellends. A huge number of people not crashing because everyone around them compensates for their shit driving. 

I think this lack of consequences for awful driving 99% of the time just encourages peoples and emboldens them. Why would you think your driving is dangerous if you've never been in a crash eh? Thats something I have heard loads of people say who drive like idiots. Like thats proof of their talent and safety rather than proof of luck and most people not wanting to crash when they can avoid it. 

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Surreyrider replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
3 likes

Sorry, I disagree when it comes to poor decision-making/lack of understanding. At least from my Surrey experiences. Here it's impatience, anti-social/aggressive behaviour and selfishness - and they're all choices. Only yesterday I nearly got rear ended by a BMW driver who didn't think they should have to stop for a vehicle that had already started entering a roundabout from the right. After that , they proceeded to rev and then close pass me inches away while accelerating up to a speed that was well above the limit for the road, only to have to wait at the junction a few hundred yards later (I caught up but decided to stay behind him in the queue). All of those actions were deliberate and were made with complete disregard for others.

I won't even go into the the details of the white van driving the wrong way down a two-lane one-way road as I came around the bend soon after leaving my parents' home on Saturday night.

Or the driver who went the wrong way round a roundabout near Chobham a few weeks ago (luckily I had just cleared the car's path).

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Surreyrider | 4 months ago
2 likes

I've said this before somewhere here, but I believe that driving, when broken down to its fundamentals, is a series of binary, aggressive and passive actions. The key point being that the default driving position is one of aggressor, with passive actions forced on to a driver by law, circumstance, or by other road users acts of greater aggression.

Cyclists as vulnerable road users will feel the effect of that aggression more, simply because we are vulnerable and unable to play along.

But are we?

Personally, I feel that a lot of the angst against cyclists is because we are inadvertently playing along, forcing our will on to other road users.

A motorist approaching a cyclist should normally need to slow down, to assess and establish a safe place to overtake. This initial slowing is by definition a passive act, an act forced on to the motorist by the cyclist's presence, making the cyclist the aggressor. 

Now, on one level, that's completely barmy, but in the binary mindset of motoring it stacks up. Add in a lot of etiquette based give and take, and cyclists inability to engage in that, and you have the perfect recipe for animosity. 

To summarise, drivers act aggressively towards cyclists because;

 - They don't register their actions as being aggressive - its their norm

 - They are acting in retaliation for the aggression they feel a cyclist has subjected them to

 - They are aggressive to everyone at all times, and are rewarded daily for being so

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Cugel replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
3 likes
mctrials23 wrote:

I genuinely think that this almost never happens. I would suggest that 99.9% of incidents with cars and bikes are from poor decision making and lack of understanding.

.....

I think this lack of consequences for awful driving 99% of the time just encourages peoples and emboldens them. Why would you think your driving is dangerous if you've never been in a crash eh? Thats something I have heard loads of people say who drive like idiots. Like thats proof of their talent and safety rather than proof of luck and most people not wanting to crash when they can avoid it. 

Humans will be humans, no matter what laws and moral codes demand of them. Humans are many things but there's always large dollops of incompetance and stupidity involved from time to time, not to mention emotional paroxysms during which impulsive aggresive acts are committed.

This being the case, a better solution than ineffective motoring law (especially the sort that is rarely applied and which is widely regarded as too demanding of human drivers) is needed. The obvious solution is to ban the fundamental cause of the harms, the car, van and lorry. 

This would have large effects besides reducing road deaths and maimings to near zero. Good side effects would be a vast reduction in NHS bills, pollution and green house gas production. Less good effects would be those associated with the need to drastically rejig many aspects of economic activity; and the cultural activities that see the ability to travel anywhere you want and as far as you want as often as you want, as fast as possible, as some sort of natural right.

Personally I can easily envision a far better environment and styles of life without cars. Even if vans and lorries .... and buses, lots of buses .... were retained, it would become easier to ensure that such vehicles were piloted only by the highly competant, with associated periodic testing and loss of the license for the least driving infringement.

Could it happen? Very unlikely, given the vast addictions to the car, its highly seductive nature and the huge vested interest in making & selling the stinking things.

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chrisonabike replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
2 likes

It's something like learned helplessness / the responsibility trap.  Knowing that statistically humans make a certain percentage of terrible mistakes we (sensibly) make it safer for them.

However, this can lead people to assume (or rather learn) it's safe - in which case they will not apply as much care / concentration *...

We've kind of done this with "road safety" in the UK in general.  We've reduced the rate of crashes so most people get through life without much impact.  Hence "tragic accident" / "sadly it's just the necessary price we pay for progress".  Unfortunately we've done this in part by "removing the people from the vehicles".  So people don't want to cycle on the roads, and we make it inconvenient for people to cross roads e.g. long waits at lights, long diversions over overpass bridges...

We've also made driving much easier and safer (...until it isn't).  So people are further prompted to take this activity trivially.

As always I think the way forward is shown by the Dutch "Sustainable Safety" philosophy - in terms of working with human psychology without falling into the "easy motoring trumps everything" trap.

* This is of course also affected by our cultural idea that driving is an essential part of being an adult, a marker of status, a "right".

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Patrick9-32 replied to HollisJ | 4 months ago
3 likes

I think the only way to fix the danger of the roads would be to treat every incident as intentional unless proven otherwise. We are all tested, licensed and insured to drive. It should be something that can be done safely in all but the most extreme of circumstances. The only reason you should ever hit a well lit cyclist is because you meant to. The only reason you should ever mount the pavement and hit a pedestrian or go through a red light or do any of the million other things the courts have normalised as just inattentive is because you are deliberately trying to kill someone. 

If you kill a cyclist or a pedestrian, you should have to prove it wasn't murder and if you can't you should be sentenced like any other murderer. 

Many people would choose not to drive as it would be too great of a responsibility and that would be seen as a bad thing by policy makers but, realistically, the responsibility is already that great, its just other people's lives rather than their own that drivers are playing with right now. 

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chrisonabike replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
0 likes

Don't think our legal system will be able to handle the numbers!

This sounds like a criminal version of the "presumed / strict liability" concept - as far as I'm aware it's never been tried as a criminal law anywhere.

I think bringing in a presumed liability regulation for civil matters e.g. compensation / insurance however would be the way to go.

I'm not sure (if your idea could be implemented) what the effect would be.  What I don't think is that this would change most people's view on the safety of cycling on the roads (absent other things happening e.g. a drastic reduction in numbers driving AND probably speed reductions also).  After all, it's already "safe"... so merely saying "don't worry, we will throw the book at them now" won't change things short term.  People just don't like cycling around motor vehicles.

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