Within the limit can be over the limit
Hazard awareness and driving according to the conditions are essential for safety
Driving below the signed speed limit can still be too fast.
That is the conclusion of a judge in summing up a recent case where a child was knocked down by a car on a pedestrian crossing.
Judge Dexter Dias warned of the dangers of driving at “excessive and unreasonable” speed after a doctor, driving at 28mph in a 30mph zone, hit a 12-year-old child.
The court heard that Dr Shanthi Chandran was driving through Oxfordshire, in January 2018, when the girl stepped onto the crossing.
According to a BBC report, Judge Dias said it was a “common misconception” that it was “reasonable” to drive just below the speed limit.
The child suffered a serious head injury as a result of being hit by the car and was also left with “cognitive and psychiatric problems”, he said.
The judge was outlining his conclusions after considering evidence at a High Court hearing in London in April.
Dr Chandran, who was on her way to work in Milton Keynes. She was driving her BMW i3 in Bicester, Oxfordshire, at the time of the incident.
Judge Dias said it was a “dark and rainy Monday morning”. She was driving at an “excessive, unsafe and unreasonable” speed and had failed to pay “sufficient attention to hazards and other road users”.
He ruled it was in breach of Dr Chandran’s duty of care towards the child. She was therefore 60% liable for the incident. The child was 40% liable for stepping onto the pedestrian crossing when the light was green for traffic.
Awareness and possibility
“While this case is not about a fatality, it shows yet again how dangerous it is to drive at excessive and unreasonable speed,” Judge Dias said.
Dr Chandran, was being sued for damages by the girl’s mother. However, the driver had not been reported by police for any criminal offences.
The judge had been asked to make decisions about liability. However, he made no ruling about the size of any damages award.
Essentially the the evidence led the judges decision. Driving at that speed in the conditions was dangerous, though legal. Wintery condition, low light and a lack of awareness on the conditions in an urban environment place the majority of liability on the driver. Hazard awareness and anticipation of other road users is essential behaviour for all drivers.