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Careless driver jailed for 10 months and given two-year driving ban for seriously injuring two cyclists

Zahin Ali "tipped upside down" the victims' lives, Thames Valley Police said, the two women suffering life-changing injuries in the roundabout collision...

Police have released footage of a careless driver smashing into two female cyclists at a roundabout, causing the victims "life-changing injuries". The motorist, Zahin Ali, has been jailed for 10 months and was also sentenced to a two-year driving ban at Reading Crown Court on Monday.

The incident happened on 2 June last year, the two female cyclists, one in their forties and another in her fifties, hit as they rode around a roundabout in Twyford on the A4 Bath Road towards Reading.

Ali, 20, was driving a Vauxhall Astra along the route when he failed to stop at the roundabout, smashing into the victims. Both women were seriously injured in the collision and sustained "life-changing injuries".

The motorist responsible was eventually charged by postal requisition on 28 September last year and in December pleaded guilty to two counts of causing serious injury by careless driving.

The incident was captured on the dash-cam in his vehicle and, at a hearing in court this week, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison and handed a driving ban for two years.

Thames Valley Police released the footage as a "reminder to people who choose to drive in such a manner that there are consequences".

Investigating officer Sergeant Matthew Cadmore, of the Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit, said: "The victims' lives and those of their families have been tipped upside down due to Zahin Ali deciding to drive so carelessly. Everyone has the right to travel on the road safely, whether by car, motorcycle, pedal cycle, horse or on foot.

Driver jailed for careless driving that seriously injured two cyclists (Thames Valley Police)
Driver jailed for careless driving that seriously injured two cyclists (Thames Valley Police)

"Drivers should take extra care to avoid collisions with vulnerable road users, because a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist or horse rider will always come off worse. Whenever and wherever you drive: watch your speed, expect to encounter different road users, be patient, give others time and room, be ready for others to make mistakes, concentrate on your driving, never drive and use a mobile phone.

"I hope this sentence serves as a reminder to people who chose to drive in such a manner that there are consequences not only for them but for others too."

In September, the force successfully prosecuted a "dreadful" hit-and-run driver who killed a cyclist before "calmly" boarding train to London. Edward Hinchliffe, on licence from prison for sex offences at the time of the fatal crash, struck triathlete Simon Chesher before driving through a red light and repeatedly hitting the kerb with a smashed windscreen, and was jailed for five and a half years.

The judge told the defendant, "any humanity that you had evaporated and you calmly went on your way to London as if nothing had happened".

"Dreadful, dreadful behaviour. Any decent person would have immediately stopped and offered what assistance they could. You did not."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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78 comments

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stewb62 | 3 months ago
1 like

I think it is worth pointing out that the grass on that island has been allowed to grow very long, obscuring the view of those cyclists for the driver.  No argument the driver is guilty, but the contributory negligence of Highways England (presumably) in failing to keep the grass short in a hazardous location is surely an important factor here too.

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Rendel Harris replied to stewb62 | 3 months ago
5 likes

Correction: the grass obscures the view of the bottom half of the cyclists, they are clearly visible from the saddle up all the way round as the driver approaches. In any case if the view of a junction is obscured it's the driver's duty to take extra care rather than just plough on.

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john_smith replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
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Quite. The first half of your post is almost a bit redundant.

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chrisonabike replied to john_smith | 3 months ago
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I didn't see that behind the class...

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polainm replied to stewb62 | 1 month ago
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I drive a Caterham that is lower than me when cycling, and it's true; many drivers are too stupid to be allowed anywhere near machinery. 

In this incident, I'm sure the A-pillar obscured the cyclists at some point but, like too many drivers, they continue to drive into a space that cannot be seen to be clear, and are then surprised when something is. 

In the same approach to deciding if someone can have a shotgun licence, some drivers should never have a driving licence. 

I will never understand these judgements that keeep putting the incompetent and arrogant back on the public highway in nearly two tonnes of machine. 

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Cycloid | 3 months ago
1 like

Lots of analysis and opinions in the comments below (including mine)
Regardles of the unique cicumstances I think it is a standard scenario

When the case comes to Court:-

The Driver says "I did not see the cyclists, they came out of nowhere"
Coucil for the defense says "My client looked but failed to see"
Council for the prosecution says "The defendent failed to look properly"
The cyclists say (if they are still alive) "The driver just drove onto the junction without looking"

The driver frequently gets off with minimum consequences. Seeing the video enables an objective analysis.

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john_smith replied to Cycloid | 3 months ago
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What will an objective analysis tell you other than the car and cyclists collided?

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hawkinspeter replied to john_smith | 3 months ago
2 likes
john_smith wrote:

What will an objective analysis tell you other than the car and cyclists collided?

That the driver failed to give way to traffic already on the roundabout

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john_smith replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
0 likes

Is that under dispute?

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hawkinspeter replied to john_smith | 3 months ago
1 like

john_smith wrote:

Is that under dispute?

No - probably due to having objective video evidence. If it was just based on witness statements then it could easily be under dispute.

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Cycloid replied to john_smith | 3 months ago
2 likes

In this case an objective analysis tell us that the car crossed give way lines and collided with the cyclists, enabling us to correctly aportion blame rather than having to make a judgement based on unrelaible and possibly untruthful testimonies

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john_smith replied to Cycloid | 3 months ago
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I'm having difficulty seeing how the car could have collided with the cyclists on the roundabout without having crossed the give-way line. It's not clear to me what objective facts need to be established. The article doesn't seem to suggest that there's any doubt about what happened.

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Rendel Harris replied to john_smith | 3 months ago
4 likes

Respectfully, I think you've misinterpreted: Cycloid's point (I believe) was that the existence of the video allows for an objective assessment in court of what happened and who is at fault whereas without it the case would come down to subjective testimony from those involved. Without the video the driver could claim that the cyclists were veering from another lane, that they were invisible from his approach etc etc.

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wtjs | 3 months ago
3 likes

The lesson learned by many of us is 'please never post again'- here, that is

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chrisonabike | 3 months ago
1 like

For context, I think the video starts about here.

Single lane becomes two at the roundabout entrance.  Double-lane roundabouts are not considered "safe" for cycling (or indeed uncontrolled pedestrian crossings) in more enlightened places.  Not even so much here - note the "metal trench in the sky" footbridge over one arm.

The roundabout design isn't unusual AFAICS but joining at an angle means that close to the entrance to look for traffic on the roundabout you'll have to look further to your right - and indeed maybe > 90 degrees.

It's also a "standard for UK" design which prioritises flow - e.g. designed to be driven at speeds - I believe the A4 here is "national speed limit" is that correct?  Hence the angled lanes on entrance.

The A4 appears to be a road for "going places" and kind of a ring-road here, but one road/street off it is residential - right up to the roundabout.  Also standard in UK...

Speculation but I suspect the driver looked once (assuming "at all") and missed the cyclists - and if they looked again possibly it was behind them (trying to see past the visual clutter on the island).  The cyclists aren't going particularly slowly but were slower than e.g. the car preceeding them so will have been behind the island for a longer time.

Also because of the two lane entry it's possible the driver was also dealing with the van to their front then on their left.

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robbo | 3 months ago
8 likes

I'm regretting this comment already. When I first watched the video without reading the article I was struck by how the cyclists made no eye contact with the driver or even looked at the car. I'm not saying the cyclists are at any fault, but some defensive road awareness may have reduced or removed the consequences.

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hawkinspeter replied to robbo | 3 months ago
11 likes

robbo wrote:

I'm regretting this comment already. When I first watched the video without reading the article I was struck by how the cyclists made no eye contact with the driver or even looked at the car. I'm not saying the cyclists are at any fault, but some defensive road awareness may have reduced or removed the consequences.

What you're asking for is that cyclists have to anticipate every possible piece of bad driving by every driver that they come anywhere near, but in the meantime, drivers don't have to follow even the most basic of rules.

That's the wrong way round - the person in control of the more dangerous machinery needs to be taking far more responsibility as they are bringing danger to the whole situation.

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robbo replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
4 likes

Not really! Just saying a bit of self preservation awareness is useful. Yes he needs punishing but that doesn't reverse their life changing injuries.

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robbo replied to robbo | 3 months ago
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I'd much rather avoid the life changing injury in the first place than see the driver who hit me put in prison.

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hawkinspeter replied to robbo | 3 months ago
7 likes

robbo wrote:

I'd much rather avoid the life changing injury in the first place than see the driver who hit me put in prison.

That's a poor way to approach road danger - blame the victims for not avoiding criminally bad driving?

What next, "I'd much rather wear a stab-proof vest in the first place than end up in hospital with a knife wound"?

I don't think your attitude is helpful.

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robbo replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
3 likes

That's not what I'm saying. Putting someone in prison doesn't fix my injury. Being aware of the danger might do! Nothing to do with stab proof vests

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hawkinspeter replied to robbo | 3 months ago
3 likes

robbo wrote:

That's not what I'm saying. Putting someone in prison doesn't fix my injury. Being aware of the danger might do! Nothing to do with stab proof vests

However, taking dangerous/careless drivers off the road should improve road danger directly due to there being less idiots behind the wheel and indirectly, by encouraging other drivers to pay attention and follow the rules.

Simply pointing at people who've been injured and saying "you should have avoided that" does less than nothing - it pisses off everyone who's ever been injured and emboldens careless drivers.

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marmotte27 replied to robbo | 3 months ago
3 likes
robbo wrote:

That's not what I'm saying

Unfortunately that's exactly what you're saying.

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NOtotheEU replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
6 likes

I don't think robbo is victim blaming. The driver is 100% at fault but just maybe the (completely blameless) cyclists could have avoided a collision if they were paying even a little attention.

Personally I wouldn't pass any junction or roundabout entrance without a glance or at least a good peripheral view of what could be coming.

We've all seen the disgusting victim blaming that usually follows a cyclist being hurt by a dangerous driver and I agree it could be damaging to talk about it right after the event or in court but now the driver has been convicted I think it's a positive discussion to have.

 

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hawkinspeter replied to NOtotheEU | 3 months ago
1 like

NOtotheEU wrote:

I don't think they're victim blaming. The driver is 100% at fault but just maybe the (completely blameless) cyclists could have avoided a collision if they were paying more attention.

Personally I wouldn't pass any junction or roundabout entrance without a glance or at least a good peripheral view of what could be coming.

I agree it could be damaging to talk about it right after the event or in court but now the driver has been convicted it's a positive discussion to have.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for learning from avoidable situations, but I don't think it's applicable in this instance. The driver didn't appear to be travelling particularly fast, so the cyclists had no reason to think that the driver wasn't going to stop and it didn't look like they had enough time to react between the driver going over the give-way line and hitting them. In my view, the only way that the cyclists could have avoided it would be by assuming that drivers don't give way on roundabouts and that would make most roundabouts unusable by cyclists as you can't just stop at each junction just in case.

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NOtotheEU replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
1 like

Damn, you quoted me while I was editing what I'd written, oh well.

Totaly agree that they might not have had time to do anything in time even if they were paying any attention but we've all avoided collisions where we would have been the blameless party so I think it's still worth talking about.

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chrisonabike replied to robbo | 3 months ago
2 likes

Well ... yes, it looks like they didn't check... but the onus is the wrong way round and in the final analysis there simply may not be anything you can do.  (For a "design" example there are some layouts where - if not impossible the road design will make it unintuitive / difficult to check).

I'm sure - like me and many others - you've had a few moments where you are looking right into a converging driver's face as you realise "they're looking but they're not seeing me".

I'd much rather this hazard was avoided entirely, or some mitigation by design was applied [1] [2], or the number of places the situation could arise at all was minimised.  Plus of course it would help to encounter fewer motor vehicles, going more slowly.

Driving standards - and their enforcement - are pretty dire though.

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john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
2 likes

 "they're looking but they're not seeing me".

Yup. That second or two of uncertainty on your part, while you're still thinking "there's no way they can not have seen me; they must be about to take correction action any instant now".

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hawkinspeter replied to robbo | 3 months ago
2 likes

robbo wrote:

Not really! Just saying a bit of self preservation awareness is useful. Yes he needs punishing but that doesn't reverse their life changing injuries.

I do agree that heightened awareness can be useful when cycling, but in the greater scheme of things, not all cyclists have years of experience and roadcraft behind them. If we want to get more people to cycle (which we do), then it's hardly practical to teach all cyclists to slow or stop at every possible place that a driver could not bother stopping.

What we do need is to get these unskilled drivers off the roads. If they can't even follow the most basic rules (give way when joining roundabouts - the road markings are clear) then why should they be allowed to drive at all? The problem isn't "unskilled" cyclists as they almost never cause life changing injuries to others. (Not that I think the two cyclists are "unskilled" at all - it doesn't look like they had enough time to react).

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ChasP replied to hawkinspeter | 3 months ago
5 likes

When I had some motorcycle training 40+ years ago I was told to assume that every car driver was trying to kill me. That mindset has served me equally well cycling. I completely agree those inside metal boxes should bear more responsibility but the more vulnerable can't assume that they will.

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