I Don’t Suppose He’ll Win….

…but I’m rooting for him:

A motorcyclist left paralysed in a crash after two schoolgirls allegedly stepped into his path is suing them for more than £300,000 in damages.

And before anyone points out it’s ‘monstrous’ to sue two teenage girls, just have a look at the facts of the case:

Dennis Porter, 60, is said to have swerved to avoid sixth formers Charlotte Humphries and Gemma McMillan when they walked into moving traffic on their way home from school in Hackbridge in 2008.

Mr Porter said he hit the brakes and avoided the girls, now both 19, but skidded into the path of an oncoming Ford Transit van.

Essentially, he’s suing them for causing the accident by not using the provided crossing. And I feel for him, because, frankly, it could only have been a matter of time.

Time and time again I see pedestrians with little or no road sense stepping out into traffic often mere feet away from a legitimate crossing. And I’m not just talking about children either – just a few weekends ago I saw an elderly lady (walking with a stick) hobble across a dual carriageway just ten feet from a Pelican crossing!

Even where the fault of the driver is pretty much a foregone conclusion, pedestrians don’t help themselves by failing to use the crossings because it’s inconvenient…

Miss Humphries, of London Road, Hackbridge, and Miss McMillan of Reigate Avenue, Sutton, were travelling home from school, getting off the 151 bus at about 4.45pm on June 30, near to Miss Humphries’ home.…“Instead of walking further north to use the pedestrian crossing, the defendants walked south along the eastern footway until they were almost opposite [Miss Humphries’ address] and then attempted to cross the road between slow-moving traffic.

“Two motorcycles passed [Miss Humphries] who then moved to the offside and began to filter past motor cars while, nevertheless remaining on his own side of the road.

“He was aware there was a 30mph speed limit and he negotiated a left hand bend appropriately and within a the speed limit before straightening up.”

“As he did so the defendants suddenly and without warning emerged from between slow moving traffic from the right and established themselves past the white centre line in the claimant’s path, unable to proceed through the northbound traffic.”

Now, the sole comment to that piece at the time of writing was that, under the Highway Code, pedestrians have right of way at all times, even if they aren’t on a crossing. But the Highway Code was written when a certain amount of personal responsibility was expected. It hasn’t taken into account changing attitudes to road safety.

And I’m not advocating a ‘mow ‘em down if they don’t get out of the way!’ free for all approach. Tempting though that might be…

But frankly, I’d like to see a lot more personal responsibility of the part of pedestrians, and if this lawsuit forces that, I’m all for it.

The two teenagers now have a chance to lodge a defence.

It’ll be interesting to see what that could possibly be…

17 comments for “I Don’t Suppose He’ll Win….

  1. Robert Edwards
    July 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Well, you won’t get an argument out of me on that one. Pedestrians need to learn what their own responsibilities are. Questions: For whom are the roads built? Who pays Road Tax (Snork)?

    • July 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      For whom are the roads built?

      Roman soldiers?

      • Voice of Reason
        July 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm

        But what have the Romans ever done for us?

        • July 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

          Aqueducts, drains, roads, central heating, concrete, language… 😀

          I’ll get my coat.

  2. July 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Well, if he wins he won’t get any money because unless they go to the Bank of Mum & Dad they haven’t got any, and even then £150K each is pretty hefty. Best hope is a few years’ worth of attached wages or something I’d guess, which makes it more a principled stand than an expectation of a fair settlement. Still, I hope he wins too because it might bring the idea of pedestrians being responsible for their own and others safety back into fashion. Either that or create a market for third party liability pedestrian insurance.

  3. July 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Quite so. My father was dismounted by a pedestrian stepping out from behind a parked van once. It was his insurance that picked up the ambulance tab…

    • July 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      I’ve had a problem with a pedestrian doing this. They walk up to the crossing in the direction I’m riding and even though I’m watching them, they still suddenly step out onto the road without ever looking back, then wonder when I look like I’ll plough into them at speed.

      Another pedestrian trick is just to step onto the road and look neither right nor left, determinedly staring straight ahead. I’d love to see a car plough into one of these – you can always tell him by being about 18 years old, with ASBO embroidered on his sleeve.

  4. July 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Right. Because it was totally unexpected, travelling at 30mph in a narrow gap between two opposing lines of very slow moving traffic, with poor visibility, that something like this might happen?

    Quick enough, and with poor enough visibility, that the only option is to “hit the brakes” and skid into oncoming traffic.

    A couple of statements of the obvious from the Highway code, re motorbikes – “When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles” and “Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.”

    I take the point that pedestrians doing stupid things should take responsibility for their actions, but as you say yourself, it’s not unusual. If someone chooses to ignore the possibility, in order to get from A to B a bit quicker, they might have to take the consequences as well.

    • July 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      ” If someone chooses to ignore the possibility, in order to get from A to B a bit quicker…”

      A statement that applies equally to the girls, no?

      • July 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm

        Very much so, yes.

    • July 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      Which would mean that a court would apply contributory negligence.

  5. tipple
    July 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Hmmm, not sure about sueing them. I do feel he was put upon by the girls lazy attitude towards crossing a busy road. I’ve seen it many a time in my local Pelican crossing. Useless drivers & useless pedestrians.

    We have a crossing about 100 yards before a major crossroads & drivers fail to see the lights as they are so busy looking towards the main junction. I’ve seen the aftermath of two people run dowm & witnessed at least ten incidents where the driver has run a red light, much to the astonishment of the walking public unless you live locally of course. The flipside is seeing idiots walking straight out into the road the moment the green man shows his face. Yes, I too would dearly love to trust that little bloke.

    We need to educate drivers & pedestrians but how do you get two opposing sides to even begin to discuss the matter.

  6. Lord T
    July 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Engine bars and a fairing give much better protection to the rider. Of course it is best if he didn’t just swerve all over the road before he hits them. Sounds like he would have reacted just as badly if it had been a cat or a dog.

    Car drivers have the luxury of just being able to close their eyes. Don’t laugh, I have seen it happen.

    • July 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      God, engine bars. That takes me back. I haven’t used those since my Laverda…

      Mind you, those great big pots sticking out of the side of my Beemer do a fair job.

      • Lord T
        July 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        A long time ago. When you sacrificed a bit of skin, broken bones or even your life to protect the engine casing on the bike. Ah, fond memories.

        Now it is all about reducing damage to the people you hit. It damages a work of art. It’s a sin.

  7. Wolfie
    July 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I’ve been riding my Harley for 18 years without incident. Given it was clear there was a possibility of hazard he should have been riding more slowly at the time.

    • Maaarrghk!
      August 1, 2011 at 6:45 am

      The article does not say how fast (or slow) he was riding Wolfie – remember that it was the Transit van that did the damage. Had there been no oncoming traffic, he may well have got right up and walked away.

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