Legal

Blinded by the Light

This seems to be turning into quite a popular excuse. “I couldn’t see anything therefore I am not responsible for driving in to things”

The driver drove into the back of an HGV parked at the side of the road, just as the driver of that HGV walked behind it. The driver of the HGV was crushed and killed.

The defendant said

I had seen the sun shining down the road before but never as bright as that morning. I had never known it that bright before.

The Highway Code is quite clear although it is rather mis-titled

Hot weather (237)
237
Keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness. Be aware that the road surface may become soft or if it rains after a dry spell it may become slippery. These conditions could affect your steering and braking. If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop.

A reasonable and safe driver would take that to mean, if it’s bright, slow down, if it’s brighter than you have ever seen it and can’t see where you are going, stop.

The jury, of course, disagrees, they found him not guilty of the lower offence of causing death by careless driving. It does make me wonder though not just about the jury, but the prosecuting barrister and the judge. I would hope in particular that a prosecuting barrister has some expertise in RTC cases. The only quote from the prosecuting barrister is

You were on automatic pilot, making a journey you have done many times before?

Not a very strong argument, all the defendant has to do is say “No, I wasn’t” and the issue is dead in the water as the prosecutor can’t prove anything.

There is quite a conversation brewing at the moment about changes that ought to be made to the HC, this is one that could certainly do with strengthening. It should be it’s own rule and not hidden under the title “Hot Weather”

If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, you MUST immediately slow down and if necessary stop. You MUST be able to stop within the distance you can see clearly.

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