Tuesday 8 November 2011

Do dogs belong in the cabs of Cement Mixers?

I doubt anyone would agree that having large construction vehicles, often with time-critical deliveries, sharing roadspace with cyclists is ideal. This in however the case in London today, even needlessly and ludicrously on the cycling superhighways.

Where all road users are required to share the same road space I expect an extremely high duty of care to be laid on the operators of the multi-tonne vehicle in respect of more vulnerable road users, given the high likelihood that a person hit by a large vehicle, even at low speed, will be maimed or killed. Cement mixers, tipper trucks and skip lorries are involved in a high percentage of cyclists' deaths from collisions in London.

It is clearly dangerous to drive a cement mixer that is two tonnes overladen and has an unrestrained dog in the cab. For these combined dangerous actions a penalty of, say 120 hours of community service would seem appropriate.

Let's say that the driver of this cement mixer was to switch lanes and in the process strike and kill a cyclist, and then plead guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, what would an appropriate sentence be?

Today's Standard reports,
The widow of a civil servant run over and killed by a cement mixer as he was cycling home said today she had been cheated of justice after the driver walked free from court.

Father-of-three Everton Smith, 48, was cycling home to Fulham when he was hit by Paul Joseph's truck near Vauxhall Bridge when the driver switched lanes in May last year.

Joseph, 45, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. At Southwark crown court he was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service.

Court News today reported,
A cement mixer driver who killed a cyclist while carrying an excessive load and an unrestrained dog in his cab has been spared jail.

Neither report says whether a driving ban has been imposed on the driver.