meic wrote:How can anyone can use such a machine in such a dangerous state in such circumstances and not even be banned from driving is completely beyond me.
Because a very large proportion of the population, probably a majority, would have been just as likely to do exactly the same thing as he did (without bald tyres). Those of us that set off on an icy morning, having made ourselves aware of the fact it is icy and driving in a manner which is suited to icy conditions are a distinct minority.
Exactly so. Because the test of whether someone is guilty of careless or dangerous driving (whether or not death is caused thereby) is a comparison with what the average so-called careful driver would have done. And as we who cycle the roads know from our daily experience, the average British driver is not careful enough!
Worse: the normalcy of careless impatience is reinforced by the decisions of our courts - assuming a case gets that far. I think the worst recent example is the failure of two juries to convict the killer of Peter Stubbs, who neglected to slow down when she was dazzled by low sun, but drove on at a speed far in excess of that which would enable her to stop in the distance she could see to be clear. The average person/driver obviously reckons that it's more important to 'make progress' than take care - and expects that everything in front and behind them is proceeding on the same premise, at a similar speed. And sad to say, that's probably true most of the time, which is why our rural main roads are 20 to 30 times more lethal to cycle on per mile, than minor roads in towns.
Anthony Maynard had been killed in similar circumstances a couple of years earlier. His relatives were incensed that the CPS did not even prosecute. But it seems the CPS was right: the British public do not think it is reasonable for a motorist to limit their speed on main roads, to that which would enable them to avoid hitting the odd cyclist they might perhaps encounter. Judge Tobin was clearly of that opinion when it came to the killing of Pat Kenny.
When I visit countries like Germany, I can't help feeling they've got a better system in all sorts of ways. Not only more and better cyclepaths, but laws (of which presumed liability is one) that motivate drivers to respect the priority of those paths at junctions and a system of policing (mentioned by Thirdcrank) that commands adherence to those laws not only through the laws themselves but the social norms they reinforce.
I think that the average British driver probably wants to drive within the speed limit and more carefully in general, but is bullied by a badly behaved and impatient minority who aggressively tailgate and noisily overtake anyone who holds them up. Thanks to a lack of traffic law enforcement they get away with it most of the time and boast of how it should only take X minutes/hours to get to Y, generating a climate of opinion in which anyone who doesn't drive at or above the limit wherever they can get away with it, or holds back behind a cyclist they might easily squeeze by, becomes regarded as a dithering fool. I don't know how we change that, but we must, and presumed liability is at least a fairy step in the right direction.