Seriously injured cyclist calls for harsher penalties for careless drivers (From Your Local Guardian)
Banstead cyclist Nigel Barclay left with life-changing injuries calls for harsher penalties for careless drivers
A man whose life was changed forever after being knocked off his bicycle is calling for harsher penalties for careless drivers.
Nigel Barclay, from Banstead, was left with serious injuries after being knocked over by Harry Ledger, 19, in March, when he was cycling a hundred metres from his home.
Mr Barclay had removed his helmet as he was close to home and was cycling downhill, in Hillside, when Ledger, of Cheam, turned right into his path.
The 45-year-old was admitted to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, where he remained for two months, with a fractured skull, multiple facial fractures, and breaks to his arms, legs and pelvis. He also suffered brain injury, leaving him deaf in one ear and with double vision in one eye.
Mr Barclay, who runs a gate installation business, has not been able to work since, and has been told it is unlikely he will be able to undertake physically demanding activities again.
Ledger pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and was fined £300 and given four penalty points on his licence at South East Surrey Magistrates’ Court in August.
Mr Barclay believes the sentence was extraordinarily lenient given the injuries he suffered and that the law needs to be reviewed.
He said: "Victims are being let down by the courts and the people who cause the problems seem to get away with it lightly.
"This guy has totally changed my life.
"Because I suffered a brain injury, I had to surrender my licence, but the guy who caused this has not had his licence taken away.
"I was a man in his mid-40s who was perfectly fit and able, enjoyed sports and playing with my kids.
"Now, I’ll have to be very careful not to sustain any more injuries."
Mr Barclay said the court took into account the fact he was not wearing a helmet.
He said: "There’s no legal requirement to wear a helmet, and, even if I was wearing one, it wouldn’t have helped me with the breaks in my arms, legs or pelvis, which are having the biggest effects on my life.
"There’s clear evidence to suggest that a helmet only makes a difference in a low speed collision."
Mr Barclay is now pursuing a claim for damages against Ledger.
His solicitor, Malcolm Underhill of IBB Solicitors, said: "If someone is charged with careless driving, the starting point in the criminal justice system is the court looking at the standard of the person’s driving - it does not particularly take into account the ramifications of the person’s actions.
"Mr Barclay’s issues will affect him for the rest of his life and, conscious of that, there is an imbalance."
Does wearing a helmet make a difference?
According to the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation: Cycle helmets act like shock absorbers - protecting the head by reducing the rate at which the skull and brain are accelerated or decelerated by an impact.
In cases of high impact, such as most crashes that involve a motor vehicle, the initial forces absorbed by a cycle helmet before breaking are only a small part of the total force and the protection provided by a helmet is likely to be minimal.
In this context cycle helmets provide best protection in situations involving simple, low-speed falls with no other party involved.
Helmets are unlikely to offer adequate protection in life-threatening situations.