Inquest into the death of Scott David Peoples (2010) H&FLR 2015-14
Coroners’ Court of Victoria
11 October 2010
Coram: Coroner Bryant
Counsel assisting the Coroner: Mr John Goetz
Appearing for the family of the deceased: Mesdames Jane Dixon SC and Esther James (instructed by Riordan Legal).
Appearing for the Blay family*: Mr Barrett (Instructed by Barretts Lawyers)
Appearing for VicRoads: Mr Trevor Wraight (instructed by DLA Phillips Fox)
Appearing for the Chief Commissioner of Police: Ms Julia Greenham (instructed by the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office)
Appearing for the Cycling Victoria: Mr K. Mueller.
Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – hit by car – death – fitness to drive – duty to report
Facts**: The deceased was a 20 year old cyclist. At the time of his death he was on the verge of cycling professionally. While on a training ride on the Maroondah Highway near Merton he was struck from behind by a Nissan patrol driven by a Mr Kenneth Blay. Mr Peoples died as a result of his injuries.
At the point of collision the road was paved, with a two metre paved shoulder. The road runs straight and slightly uphill. Mr Blay stated that he did not see the deceased prior to the collision and was only made aware of the collision by the noise of impact. He subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving: Police v Blay (Mansfield Magistrates court, 1 August 2007, unreported).
Blay’s speed at the time of the collision was estimated at 73 kph (45 mph). Police considered that he would have had 500-600 metres of unimpeded vision. The collision was considered to have occurred on the paved shoulder of the road. Blay had a significant left-side blind spot as a result of a stroke. In 2004 he had also been involved in a collision with a cyclist on the same road.
Held: 1. The Court strongly recommended mandatory reporting by doctors to licensing authorities of patients considered unfit to drive on medical grounds. It was not sufficient merely to recommend the patient not drive.
2. Cyclists and motorists share an obligation to use the roads in a safe manner. However, the particular vulnerability of cyclists imposes an obligation on motorists to drive in a manner that does not put cyclists’ lives at risk
The Court’s judgment is available here.
* Blay had died by the time of the inquest.
** In assessing the facts, note that the Coroner was scathingly critical of the police investigation.
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