Cyclists slam ‘absurd’ fine

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A cycling charity has slammed magistrates after a motorist caused a crash which left a cyclist with a broken leg, fractured elbow and soft tissue damage and was fined just £55.

Thomas McAteer, 49, of Maple Grove, Grimsargh, admitted at Preston Magistrates’ Court a charge of careless driving.

The accident happened in D’Urton Lane, Preston, at around 1.35pm on Wednesday, November 14.

McAteer was driving a Vauxhall Combo van when he approached the junction with Haighton Green Lane.

The court heard that he intended to turn left, but failed to give way and pulled out, colliding with a cyclist who was travelling ahead on the road.

Prosecutors said: “The cyclist was knocked off his bike and sustained a broken femur, a fractured elbow and soft tissue damage to his back.

“He also spent a number of weeks in hospital due to the seriousness of his injuries.”

The road was dry and the weather described as fine.

Magistrates ordered McAteer to pay a £55 fine, £43 court costs and a victim surcharge of £20. They also handed him three penalty points.

Rhia Weston, from the cycling charity CTC, branded the decision “ridiculous” and said the cyclist could try to pursue compensation in a civil case.

She said: “Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. This is extremely common and one of the reasons why we set up our Road Justice Campaign.

“Why was the guy charged with careless driving? It should be dangerous driving.

“He is putting another person’s life in danger.”

The average fine for careless driving in 2011 was £138. The maximum punishment magistrates can give is a £5,000 fine and nine penalty points.

Rhia said: “When you compare what he got to what he could have got, it’s absolutely absurd, £55 is laughable. It is ridiculous for the amount of damage he has caused.”

The CTC’s Road Justice Campaign aims to challenge the police, the prosecution services and the judiciary over the way that such cases are treated.