Taxi driver fined for fatally injuring cyclist

A Glasgow taxi driver has been fined £400 after fatally striking a cyclist with his cab door.

The taxi driver had parked his cab at the roadside before opening his door to exit the vehicle. The door struck a passing cyclist who came off his bike, hitting his head on the tarmac. The man later died from severe head injuries sustained in the fall.

The incident occurred in May 2015 as the 67-year-old man was cycling home along Keppochhill Road in Glasgow. The cyclist was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary and then transferred to the Southern General Hospital, but was declared dead two days after the incident.

The court case

The taxi driver appeared before Glasgow Sheriff Court where he pled guilty to opening his cab door "to the endangerment and injury" of the cyclist.

The driver admitted opening the door without looking, which caused the cyclist to come off his bicycle. However, the Court heard that the driver initially believed that he had not hit the cyclist, and thought the pensioner had swerved to avoid the door and lost control.

The driver's defence lawyer added that another taxi had double-parked on a bend close to the accident scene. The cyclist had to swerve around the first taxi before manoeuvering back in, alongside other parked vehicles. In light of these conditions, the defence lawyer said, the driver accepted that he had a duty "to go further than he would normally to ensure there was no other hazards" before opening the car door.

Fining the driver £400, the Sheriff expressed her surprise at the charge the taxi driver faced. She pointed out that he had not been charged with causing the cyclist's death.

What price a life?

Both Scottish and English law recognise the offence causing death by dangerous or careless driving. However, except in very unusual circumstances, those laws only apply when a driver is actively driving the vehicle. Lesser rules apply when the vehicle is parked - which means that "dooring" incidents such as this one cannot be prosecuted as a driving-related offence.

The driver's duty is set out in Rule 239 of the Highway Code which specifies that, when parking by the roadside, "you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic."

The case highlights the vulnerability of cyclists on our roads and will hopefully make all road users more aware.

Legal

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