Coroner blames headphones

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thirdcrank
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Coroner blames headphones

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Dec 2016, 8:40am

This is about the coroner's inquest into the death of cyclist Emily Norton who died when she came off her bike fracturing her skull and spinal cord. It's reported that she entered a roundabout without looking to her right. It's reported that a lorry was exiting the roundabout but she fell on its nearside so perhaps the driver was preparing to leave at the next exit. :?

I'm surprised by the next bit:

(The Coroner) concluded: "I cannot determine if she was on her iPhone listening with earphone at the time, but if she had been, it could have caused a distraction and could have contributed to the cause of the accident."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12 ... sed-death/

iviehoff
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby iviehoff » 6 Dec 2016, 9:17am

In many cases, the courts take an interest in the reason for the inattention of a road user failing to perceive another road user and thus moving as if they were not there, resulting in a collision. For example, they will seek evidence of whether they were using a mobile phone. So it does not strike me as self-evidently wrong that the judge should have sought a reason for the cyclist's inattention. In fact the judge failed to find a reason for the inattention, he merely drew attention to one possibility. We can query whether it is actually a plausible possibility.

There is evidence that we use our ears quite a lot, and subconsciously, to detect whether traffic is coming. This is why many people have said that electric cars must have "brrm tones" so we can hear them coming. Some have suggested it is foolish to use headphones, because you are removing from yourself one method of detection of traffic. I was initially shocked when I first saw cyclists wearing headphones for this reason. But these days you see it a lot, at least in London, and I'm softening my view of it.

One reason is the vehicular drivers themselves cannot reliably hear other traffic, and we do not insist they have some way of hearing it. Another reason is that there is an increasing number of low noise vehicles on the roads, and we have to be aware of the possibility of vehicles coming we can't hear. Thus we have to learn not to rely on our ears. It seems reasonable to me that headphone wearing cyclists can learn not to rely on their ears. They may even, on average, be safer for it, if they succeed in learning how to ride safely without using their hearing. I have my ears free, and am from time to time surprised by quiet vehicles.

landsurfer
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby landsurfer » 6 Dec 2016, 9:42am

To deliberatly restrict one of my senses whilst cycling on shared roads seems to be adding to risk unnecessarily.
I would not do it.
I have a duty of care to myself as well as others.
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mjr
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby mjr » 6 Dec 2016, 9:51am

Do iPhones not log activity like which apps are running, then? Also, if this had been a motorist, would the state of the car stereo be reported?

And does the more relevant stuff about the front brake make sense to anyone? If the outer was short enough to prevent braking, the inner would be in a straight line, which I've never seen. If the inner was too short, it'd be out of the clamp and the outer would fall off.

It all feels like some motorists who don't understand how bikes work have sat in judgment on a cyclist who can no longer defend herself.
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mjr
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby mjr » 6 Dec 2016, 9:55am

landsurfer wrote:To deliberatly restrict one of my senses whilst cycling on shared roads seems to be adding to risk unnecessarily.
I would not do it.
I have a duty of care to myself as well as others.

And yet, loads of people who criticise listeners wear fat straps in front of their ears that cause lots of wind noise.

One doesn't need complete hearing to cycle and I feel its offensive to people with limited hearing to suggest it IMO.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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landsurfer
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby landsurfer » 6 Dec 2016, 9:56am

SO .... helmets contribute to accidents ....... interesting .....

And you've found a reason to be offended so early in the day .... result .... :)
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landsurfer
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby landsurfer » 6 Dec 2016, 10:23am

It gets worse ....
Cut and paste from the Telegraph .....

"Cyclists have been warned not to wear headphones after a coroner ruled a mother caused her own death when the music she was listening to meant she failed to hear an oncoming lorry.

Emily Norton, 38, entered a roundabout without looking right at the same time as a DAF HGV lorry was exiting the roundabout.

The mother-of-one, who is thought to have been listening to music on her iPhone, probably panicked trying to avoid a collision, Hull Coroners' Court heard.

The hairdresser was "riding purposefully" before she wobbled at the nearside of the lorry and fell fracturing her skull and spinal cord. She fell on the verge and died instantly without hitting the lorry.

Ms Norton, who was not wearing a helmet at the time, seemed unaware of the HGV, the inquest heard."

I'm no lawyer but is this whats called a precedent ???
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cotswolds
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby cotswolds » 6 Dec 2016, 10:39am

Assuming the quote is correct, the actual words of the coroner seem perfectly reasonable to me:
"I cannot determine if she was ... listening with earphone at the time, but if she had been, it could have caused a distraction and could have contributed to the cause of the accident."
(my emphasis).

To my mind a sensible factual statement which doesn't justify the conclusion in the newspaper headline.

One thing that stuck out from the newspaper report for me was:
Ms Norton’s 18speed Carrera racing cycle was found in its lowest gear
Lowest gear on an 18 speed is going to be pretty low so suggests a pretty low speed. Sometimes you get a steep hill just before a junction, so a quick look at that map to see where the accident happened - which shows that Flatgate is as unhilly as its name suggests, and more significantly has no roundabout on the three different sources I looked at.

I can guess at explanations for these discrepancies, but it doesn't leave me with much faith in the accuracy of the piece as a whole.

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mjr
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby mjr » 6 Dec 2016, 10:57am

cotswolds wrote:One thing that stuck out from the newspaper report for me was:
Ms Norton’s 18speed Carrera racing cycle was found in its lowest gear
Lowest gear on an 18 speed is going to be pretty low so suggests a pretty low speed. Sometimes you get a steep hill just before a junction, so a quick look at that map to see where the accident happened - which shows that Flatgate is as unhilly as its name suggests, and more significantly has no roundabout on the three different sources I looked at.

http://road.cc/content/news/213510-list ... ys-coroner gives the location as Hull Road, which has a roundabout.

It also says "She was seen to enter the roundabout at speed as she rode at the side of the lorry and the wobble as the road began to narrow" and "at speed" doesn't tally with "lowest gear".

cotswolds wrote:I can guess at explanations for these discrepancies, but it doesn't leave me with much faith in the accuracy of the piece as a whole.

Accuracy of the piece, or accuracy of the coroner's court?
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby Vorpal » 6 Dec 2016, 11:06am

Professor Marks said because of a fitting defect in the front brake caused by the cable being too short, she may have applied the rear brake causing a skid.

Is possibly the most significant sentence in this article, yet the majority of the piece is dedicated to headphones :twisted:

p.s. the coroner doesn't actually have appeared to blame headphones, but merely said that they could have been a distraction and a contributory factor. IMO, it is the media blaming the headphones.
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ChrisOntLancs
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby ChrisOntLancs » 6 Dec 2016, 11:09am

it would be nice if the coroner's doubts about whether or not emily norton was even using headphones at the time made it into the headline, the telegraph.

i lean towards believing headphones are a distraction but this is one of the most trivialising and speculative cases of victim blaming i've ever seen.

for personal safety considerations alone, they've cause plenty of problems for me, having to negotiate between drivers and a cyclist that's completely oblivious to any of us (it's the look of surprise that irks me). maybe you can wear them and make up for the loss of sense, great! i really wish people would be more honest with themselves though when asking that question though.

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mjr
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby mjr » 6 Dec 2016, 11:17am

ChrisOntLancs wrote:it would be nice if the coroner's doubts about whether or not emily norton was even using headphones at the time made it into the headline, the telegraph.

The road.cc report says the earphones were in at the time, but there are three reports of this case (the third is in the Daily Fail) which all disagree in places. :-(

ChrisOntLancs wrote:for personal safety considerations alone, they've cause plenty of problems for me, having to negotiate between drivers and a cyclist that's completely oblivious to any of us (it's the look of surprise that irks me). maybe you can wear them and make up for the loss of sense, great! i really wish people would be more honest with themselves though when asking that question though.

Oh, I've had plenty of people being oblivious without headphones. The bell or a good shout usually wakes them up and yes, the look of surprise is strange, especially on busier cycle tracks, but I feel that I have to ride assuming people haven't seen me as much as reasonably possible. Maybe that's why I've crashed into others more than others have crashed into me :lol:
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ChrisOntLancs
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby ChrisOntLancs » 6 Dec 2016, 12:12pm

oh yeah i know all about that too! and i'll be honest as well as fair, there was a long time where i was learning solely from the friendly advice shouted by fellow road users (sorry! sorry! sorry! sorry!)

i don't want to dismiss the papers on reputation alone, however (i'm going to do exactly that) but their coverage of this could be done a lot more responsibly. this seems like a headline for angry motorists to share on facebook. had they used the word 'possibility' i'd be applauding them for starting an important debate that could save a lot of lives.

actually it probably is unfair to have a pop at the telegraph or even the mail for misleading headlines these days.

EDIT translated into some form of english (didn't get much sleep last night!)
Last edited by ChrisOntLancs on 6 Dec 2016, 12:13pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ruadh495
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby Ruadh495 » 6 Dec 2016, 1:36pm

Nothing in the h*lm*t section? This looks like an actual example of a helmetless cyclist dying of a head injury (though I note the news item states "fractured her skull and spinal cord" so probably not that part of the head protected by a helmet).

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mjr
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Re: Coroner blames headphones

Postby mjr » 6 Dec 2016, 1:41pm

Ruadh495 wrote:Nothing in the h*lm*t section? This looks like an actual example of a helmetless cyclist dying of a head injury (though I note the news item states "fractured her skull and spinal cord" so probably not that part of the head protected by a helmet).

The standard of the reporting (and possibly the investigation) is not sufficient to opine usefully on that aspect and the coroner is reported as having "said the fact she was not wearing a helmet may have meant she had suffered worse injuries, but made no criticism of her decision" although that doesn't seem to have stopped the newspapers and many commenters!

If it was fall due to a skid from a rear wheel lock-up, as speculated, then it seems likely that the protective part of a helmet (the top, crudely) wouldn't have prevented a fatal fracture, but we can't really know either way. I'm confused by the comments about the brakes, though.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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