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Police unsure if driver’s “lack of vision” or hi-vis and no helmet to blame for “unavoidable” collision that saw motorist pull out and kill cyclist, inquest finds

The motorist claims she wasn’t aware of two cyclists approaching until she heard the impact – as police say the crash “could not reasonably have been avoided”

Police investigating a collision which caused the death of a Hampshire-based cyclist, who was killed when a motorist suddenly pulled out of a junction and struck him, causing him to suffer traumatic brain injuries, concluded that the collision “could not reasonably have been avoided” and that officers were unsure as to whether the driver’s failure to look properly or the cyclist’s lack of hi-vis clothing were to blame for the fatal crash.

David Davenport, a popular member of Southampton’s Sotonia Cycling Club, was cycling with his friend James Martin on 8 June 2021 when, as they approached the junction of Woodman Lane and Sarum Road, near Winchester, he was struck by motorist Natalie Robson, who claimed she did not see the cyclists until the moment of the crash.

The 59-year-old suffered a serious brain injury in the collision and died eight days later at Southampton General Hospital.

According to an inquest into his death, concluded at Winchester Coroners’ Court on Wednesday, Davenport and Martin were riding two-abreast on Woodman Lane, at around 2.30pm, when they spotted Dr Robson stopped at the crossroads in Sarum Road, waiting to move off, the Hampshire Chronicle reports.

Sarum Road crossroads, Winchester (Google)

The crossroads from the Sarum Road direction, where David Davenport was fatally struck in June 2021

Mr Martin told the court that he had assumed the driver had seen them approaching to her right, before she suddenly pulled out, causing Mr Davenport to collide with her car. Mr Martin, meanwhile, riding on the inside of the road, said he manged to avoid the collision through “sheer luck”.

Speaking as part of the inquest, Dr Robson, who said she drove the same route to work every day, claimed that she had not seen either of the cyclists as they approached, and only became aware of their presence when she heard the impact of Mr Davenport colliding with her car.

Following the crash, Dr Robson administered CPR to Mr Davenport before paramedics arrived and he was taken to hospital.

According to a report conducted by Hampshire Constabulary as part of their investigation into the crash, read during the inquest by area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, the police concluded that “the collision could not reasonably have been avoided”.

The police’s report also stated that Mr Davenport was not wearing a helmet on the day of the collision, and that both the victim and Mr Martin were not wearing “high-contrast clothing” during the ride. The report also acknowledged that both cyclists were not wearing lights, due it being a summer afternoon, and that the motorist’s view may have been obscured by trees and signs.

> “If you can’t see a cyclist in broad daylight, please hand in your driving licence”: Police slammed for “victim blaming” post telling cyclists “road users can’t look out for you if you are in dark clothing”

“I am aware that the family have found that report difficult. I am sorry for their distress,” PC Anthony Clifford said.

“I do not know why Dr Robson did not see the two cyclists, if it was for lack of high contrast clothing or lack of vision.

“While the general advice is to wear a bike helmet for protection, we will never know if this would have made a difference.”

Coroner Rhodes-Kemp added that the impact statement provided by Mr Davenport’s family had detailed the effect “his death had on them, his friends, and the wider cycling community.”

“My condolences to the family in this case. It has been very sad and difficult,” she concluded.

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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82 comments

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robike | 1 month ago
0 likes

What happened to the insurance claim?
Did her insurers pay up for the loss she caused?
Or...
with this judgement does Dr Robson now claim repair expenses from her victim's estate?

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flyingpitman | 1 month ago
1 like

Disgusting comments from police, " officers were unsure as to whether the driver’s failure to look properly or the cyclist’s lack of hi-vis clothing were to blame for the fatal crash." Then to add, Mr Davenport was not wearing a helmet on the day of the collision, and that both the victim and Mr Martin were not wearing “high-contrast clothing" What difference would that have made.A man lost his life because the driver would have been in a rush and didn't "think once think twice,think bike" I was knocked off on a roundabout the driver said to me while lying on ground "Sorry mate I never seen you" I had that much Hi Viz on I looked radioactive,he admiited he was in a hurry as was late for appointment .I'm just surprised no road tax and insurance wasn't mentioned GRrrrrr. Both Cycling UK and British Cycling need to get this across to motorists that road tax was abolished in 1930s and we are insured if were with one of those,maybe it will calm a little of the hatred aimed towards us.

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Car Delenda Est | 1 month ago
4 likes

Lack of hi-vis at 2:30pm in June?

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Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
3 likes

The driver was a doctor?

If they were charged and proven guilty they would likely be struck off, therefore the police and/or other interested parties have decided not to prosecute.

Without a shadow of doubt should be taken further by the cyclists family as justice has not be given.

Obviously a doctor is far more important than some bloke on a bicycle. 

Either the driver, police, or coroner need to take a long, hard look at themselves and wonder what would have been if the " boot was on the other foot".

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Rendel Harris replied to Owd Big 'Ead | 1 month ago
2 likes

Owd Big 'Ead wrote:

The driver was a doctor?

If they were charged and proven guilty they would likely be struck off

For drink/drug driving or deliberate aggression leading to a fatality, possibly, for a death by careless driving charge (as this would most likely have been charged if justice were done) almost certainly not.

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Aberdeencyclist | 1 month ago
1 like

Yet another inadequate investigation. That junction has adequate visibility . It never ends . Up our way a jury swallowed the ' blinded by the sun excuse on a wide open bit of road . I've heard the excuse elsewhere ' the yellow hi Viz blended in to the autumnal leaves colour " so someone got killed .
We need specialist knowledge brought in to fatal cycling accidents . Cycling organisations need to get together to find expert resources and carry out independent investigations .

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eburtthebike replied to Aberdeencyclist | 1 month ago
2 likes

Didn't this government propose, and instantly shelve, a road crash investigation organisation?

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Peterjbdk replied to Aberdeencyclist | 1 month ago
2 likes

I would say that cycling organsiations should be involved in inquests involving cyclist deaths as formally Intersted Persons so that relevant questions can be asked of witnesses including the police and other collison investigators and be able to call their own expert witnesses if necessary.

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NOtotheEU | 1 month ago
2 likes

I think they came to the correct conclusion.
We let mentally and physically unfit people drive vehicles so safe they cannot be hurt by their own incompetence and don't do enough (if anything at all) to correct their behaviour therefore cyclists and pedestrians being killed cannot be avoided.

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chrisonabike replied to NOtotheEU | 1 month ago
2 likes

Horrible to say, but I agree.  "I didn't mean it" and "sorry, I'm sure I looked and didn't see anyone..." are more-or-less accepted.  Because people find it too easy to think "yeah - I've done that - they were just unlucky it ended in a tragedy".

Accepting this kind of human failing is reasonable ... in the case that someone has walked into you and even possibly knocked you over.

Add the speed, power, additional attention needed and reduction of control of using a motor vehicle - and we've got over a thousand deaths and more serious injuries per year.

Which is in global terms "very safe" and as e.g. Roadpeace remind us - is apparently a societally acceptable level.

* Notes to those worried they might "have the book thrown at them" - do express remorse.  Don't take to social media to victim blame (unless you're particularly prestigious).  BUT don't directly take the blame - "yeah, I saw them, but I was trying to avoid them" might lead to trouble, but "I didn't see them" or "I can't remember" should help.  Being a "useful member of society" will be in your favour (doctor / medic, copper, "promising young graduate") etc.

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Carior | 1 month ago
4 likes

In other news, Hampshire constabulory are also launching a public enquiry to help officers distinguish between arse and elbow!

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eburtthebike | 1 month ago
6 likes

“the collision could not reasonably have been avoided”.

Staggering incompetence/lying/cheating by the police.  It is absolutely obvious that the collision could easily have been avoided if the driver had followed the law and actually looked.  If I was a relative of David Davenport, I would be thinking very seriously of opening a complaint, as the report was inaccurate, misleading and just plain wrong.

As others have said, almost certain that the driver has a relationship with the police, and anyone else would have been held responsible and prosecuted.  I'd suggest a private prosecution, but as we know from the Mick Mason case, overwhelming evidence doesn't convince a jury of drivers.

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OldRidgeback | 1 month ago
11 likes

RIP to the victim and my condolences to the family. I can't understand why the police are thinking this way. The driver pulled out from a side road without looking properly. I can't see how that can be anything but the driver's fault.

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Bigfoz | 1 month ago
9 likes

Perhaps, in cases like this the cycling world should have some sort of legal fund so we can take out private prosecusiotns against the driver for their carelessness, and the police for their incorrect conclusions. I'd happily chip in towards it - maybe someone like Cycle Law Scotland (is there an English / Welsh equivalent?) / Good Law Project could be involved?

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hawkinspeter replied to Bigfoz | 1 month ago
3 likes

Bigfoz wrote:

Perhaps, in cases like this the cycling world should have some sort of legal fund so we can take out private prosecusiotns against the driver for their carelessness, and the police for their incorrect conclusions. I'd happily chip in towards it - maybe someone like Cycle Law Scotland (is there an English / Welsh equivalent?) / Good Law Project could be involved?

A nice idea, but it would stray dangerously into further dividing road users into cyclists/drivers and could be seen as a political statement. It would be much better if it was a fund that covered all road users as pedestrians are often victims of traffic crime, but then maybe we should be calling for a functioning justice system that isn't afraid to remove dangerous drivers from the road.

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I love my bike replied to Bigfoz | 1 month ago
4 likes

Cylists Defence Fund?

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dubwise | 1 month ago
10 likes

Has Matthew Briggs been contacted for a comment?

Or any of our amazing politicians, who do such a sterling job?

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Zjtm231 replied to dubwise | 1 month ago
1 like

Yes he said it was a killer cyclist so deserved it

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Homebaker | 1 month ago
9 likes

[Edit: having read on into the comments I see that it's clear we feel the same way. Looking to see and not crashing your car into a cyclist would have prevented this death.]

How can the statement "police concluded that “the collision could not reasonably have been avoided”." when is quite clear it could have been. "motorist Natalie Robson, who claimed she did not see the cyclists until the moment of the crash." and the statement "and that the motorist’s view may have been obscured by trees and signs.". It's clear that if the motorist had looked for and been able to see the cyclist she would not have crashed into them causing one of them to die.

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JLasTSR | 1 month ago
9 likes

Presumably the collision only became unavoidable once the driver failed to see them and pulled out. That failure to see them should mean they are charged with causing causing serious injury by careless driving, at an absolute minimum.

 

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john_smith | 1 month ago
10 likes

There are situations where a driver has little choice other than to pull out blind, very slowly, and hope other road users will see him before he can see them. But from the picture this doesn't look like one of them. And if it's being suggested that hi-viz might have made a difference, that too suggests there was nothing blocking the motorists view of the cyclists. I'm puzzled as to why the collision couldn't reasonably have been avoided.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 1 month ago
4 likes

john_smith wrote:

There are situations where a driver has little choice other than to pull out blind, very slowly, and hope other road users will see him before he can see them.

Little choice, because they had to drive where they couldn't see... OK, that's how it is.  But we teach drivers that these situations are exceptional and therefore they should think about this very carefully and do all they can to assess things, right?  Perhaps emphasise that what you can't see might be a Challenger tank bearing down (with "priority") - or maybe a glass carnival float full of poorly squirrelskittens?

So we're insisting that at the least drivers stop and move their heads around to see if they can get a better view, wind down their windows so they can listen, maybe giving a "friendly toot" to alert anyone unseen first, obviously?

... and where identified local authorities are tasked with immediately ameliorating such "accident blackspots waiting to happen" - ideally by more than just "stick up a mirror"?

john_smith wrote:

But from the picture this doesn't look like one of them. [...] I'm puzzled as to why the collision couldn't reasonably have been avoided.

Indeed ... it could have been.  Only ... humans.  We take shortcuts (a single glance / just roll out a bit slower), we have periods of low arousal / awareness (maybe going home after day at work), we develop habits (we learn there's never any traffic here, we train our visual systems to e.g. only look for the cars), we have other systematic failings (the driver stopped long enough for the cyclists to notice - then pulled out - perhaps they were distracted by something?)

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marmotte27 | 1 month ago
18 likes

Just the day before yesterday I thought about this high-vis bullshit that goes on and on and on: it was middle of the afternoon, on a normally bright day. There was a cyclist in front of me with a black jersey, and I could very clearly see him from over 400m away...

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MattieKempy replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
1 like

The RAF made a conscious decision a few years ago to change the colour of their Hawk training aircraft to black, because black was more visible. So hi-vis is misleading anyway.

The police officer quoted in the report stated that "the motorist’s view may have been obscured by trees and signs," which doesn't make it the driver's fault that she couldn't see - in fact it probably makes it the local council's fault - but it doesn beg the question why she took a punt and pulled out anyway.

Given the above, is there a case against the council for corporate manslaughter based on the failure to maintain the road and verge to a safe standard?

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quiff replied to MattieKempy | 1 month ago
1 like

MattieKempy wrote:

The RAF made a conscious decision a few years ago to change the colour of their Hawk training aircraft to black, because black was more visible. So hi-vis is misleading anyway.

More visible in the air presumably - might not apply on the ground. In the air, black is by definition hi-viz. Though (a) I like to think I'd see a Hawk of any colour if it was taxiing down my road; and (b) I'm not suggesting hi-viz would have helped the victim here.  

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stonojnr replied to quiff | 1 month ago
0 likes

Yes it's for visibility against all types of daylight sky, obviously not much use at night, and also ease of application & maintenance of the air frame.

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Paul J replied to quiff | 1 month ago
0 likes
quiff wrote:

MattieKempy wrote:

The RAF made a conscious decision a few years ago to change the colour of their Hawk training aircraft to black, because black was more visible. So hi-vis is misleading anyway.

More visible in the air presumably - might not apply on the ground. In the air, black is by definition hi-viz. Though (a) I like to think I'd see a Hawk of any colour if it was taxiing down my road; and (b) I'm not suggesting hi-viz would have helped the victim here.  

I think black may also be more visible when the background is the ground - i.e. a variety of greens, reds, etc.

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quiff replied to Paul J | 1 month ago
0 likes

Sure - my point was just that what is hi-viz for a plane is not necessarily the same as what is hi-viz for a cyclist.

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aitorbk replied to MattieKempy | 1 month ago
0 likes

It certainly is the drivers fault, as he is recognising that he went into an intersection without looking.  Also the council created a risky situation.

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justinclayton66 replied to aitorbk | 1 month ago
1 like

aitorbk wrote:

It certainly is the drivers fault, as he is recognising that he went into an intersection without looking.  Also the council created a risky situation.

From the photo that road layout does not look particularly risky. Junction near my parents is far worse
 

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