AN INEXPERIENCED driver knocked a cyclist off his bike after a “momentary misjudgement”. Susan Maries, from Parkfield Close, Gossops Green, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention, at Mid Sussex Magistrates’ Court last Friday (January 6). She knocked the cyclist off his bike when driving along Crawley Avenue on August 11 last year.
Richard Lynn, prosecuting, told the court that Maries, 46, was driving behind the cyclist. She decided to pull out into the next lane and checked her mirrors to see if any other vehicles were coming. Mr Lynn added: “She noticed a car behind her and thought she had time to pull out but the car closed the gap between them rather more quickly than she expected and so she pulled back across quickly. She knocked the cyclist off his bike and he sustained some injuries.”
Maries had clipped the cyclist with her wing mirror but told the police she felt the other vehicle behind her was as much to blame. However, David Street, speaking in mitigation, said the grandmother was still a new driver and fairly inexperienced. “Mrs Maries only passed her test in October 2009 so she had been driving for less than two years,” he said. “She doesn’t drive great distances, only to her job at Holy Trinity School as a teaching assistant three days a week, to her church and occasionally to Haywards Heath.”
Magistrate Graham Staples ordered her to pay a fine of £82, court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £15. Four points were also added to Mrs Maries’ licence.
Crawley Avenue is a dual carriageway, forming the northern bypass of Crawley. Not a great place to be on a bike, especially with drivers as incompetent as Mrs Maries around you. Bizarrely, Mrs Maries felt the vehicle approaching behind her – the speed of which she hopelessly misjudged – was ‘as much to blame’ for the injuries inflicted on the hapless cyclist as she was.
But perhaps I am being too harsh on the ‘inexperienced’ Mrs Maries. As she says, she only drives ‘3 times a week’ to her job at Holy Trinity School –
A journey which, as you can see, is barely a mile in length (I refrain from comment about the absurd degree of car dependence in Crawley that this kind of trip demonstrates). That means she is racking up six miles of driving a week – setting aside her journeys to church and Haywards Heath.
Over the two years Mrs Maries had been driving, that equates to ‘only’ 600 miles of driving distance. Factor in her other trips, and it’s a conservative estimate that Mrs Maries has covered around 1000 miles in her car.
How competent at driving should we expect her to be after passing a driving test (you know, the kind of test that is supposed to establish and guarantee proficiency with regard to the operation of heavy machinery on the public highway) ‘only’ two years ago, and subsequently racking up 1000 miles? Is she really that ‘inexperienced’, as the article – and her lawyer – would have us believe?
Evidently David Street, ‘speaking in mitigation’, thinks it quite reasonable to suppose that ‘new’ drivers will still be exhibiting this degree of incompetence with that amount of distance – and that amount of time – after passing a test that is supposed to establish competence in the first place.
If that’s the standard we demand from drivers, expect many more ‘momentary misjudgements’.