Question: If you’re not driving your car, are you driving?
Answer: It seems to depend on who gets killed.
The van driver and the van driver
A rather interesting case was brought to my attention today by @ormondroyd.
Last December, in Durham, Raymond Jenkins left his delivery van parked on the A68 near a bend and such that drivers had to cross double white lines in order to pass it, in order to deliver building supplies to premises which were not accessible by the van.
Ten minutes later, another van driver rounded the bend and ploughed into the back of Jenkins’ van at an estimated 50-60mph. He was killed instantly.
Jenkins was charged with causing death by careless driving, and was found guilty.
Although Jenkins’ defence team argued that this charge was not valid since he had ceased driving ten minutes prior to the collision, this was rejected not only by the judge in the case but also subsequently by three more judges at appeal.
Even leaving aside the severity of this sentence when compared to virtually any incident involving the death of a pedestrian or a cyclist, it begs comparison to one case in particular.
The car driver and the bicycle rider
In August 2011, Sam Harding was cycling along Holloway Road when Keyan Aydogdu opened the door of his car, which had heavily tinted windows, in front of him. Harding’s bicycle made contact with the door and he was thrown into the path of a bus, which struck and killed him.
Aydogdu was charged with manslaughter, but his actions “could not come under offences like careless driving or causing death by dangerous driving, because the engine wasn’t on and he wasn’t moving.”
The jury acquitted Aydogdu of mansalughter and he walked free.
Driving, or not driving?
So it would seem that if you are not driving, in fact if you are nowhere near your vehicle, and someone comes round a bend at 60mph without being able to see far enough ahead to stop at that speed, then in fact you are driving, and it is your fault, and you are due a very hefty sentence.
Whereas if you are not driving, but are in your vehicle and actually operating part of it, and you operate part of it in such a way that your vehicle hits another vehicle, killing its rider, then you are not driving, and it is not your fault, and you are free to go.