Two cyclists a week die on British roads as judges told to give tougher driving penalties | Fieldfisher
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Two cyclists a week die on British roads as judges told to give tougher driving penalties

New guidelines for judges sentencing drivers who have caused the death of a cyclist mean convicted drivers will face longer in jail.

The guidelines, issued by the sentencing council, follow the Government's decision to increase the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years in jail to life imprisonment and a five-year driving ban, rather than two.

The advice coincides with changes to the Highway Code to place greater responsibility on motorists to protect cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists are considered 'vulnerable road users' in the new sentencing guidelines along with pedestrians, horse riders and motorcyclists, and a motorist causing their death by dangerous driving will face additional time in jail.

Included in 10 'aggravating factors' that judges must take into account when sentencing a convicted offender is knocking over and killing a cyclist, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, causing serious injury to other victims in addition to the death and wrongly blaming other people for the offence.

Being a heavy goods driver, driving for commercial purposes and having a poorly-maintained vehicle are also considered 'aggravating' factors meriting longer sentences. The Government increased the maximum jail terms for dangerous driving following complaints from the families of victims' families that decisions were too lenient.

The latest Department for Transport figures show that the number of cyclists who died on Britain's roads in 2021 was an average of two a week. Almost half of cyclist deaths resulted from collisions between a car and a bicycle. More than eight in 10 of cyclists killed or seriously injured were male.

The most common reason for cyclists dying or being injured in collisions with a car was that the driver or rider failed to look properly.

While causing injury to other victims connected to the fatality is listed as an aggravating factor, the personal injury team would advocate that causing serious injury by dangerous driving also merits stronger sentencing.

Read about our cycling injury claims and hear from clients.

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