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Motoring law: Mother of tragic teenager calls for change in the law

The mother of a Sussex teenager tragically killed whilst cycling has called for a change in the law that would see motorists automatically at fault in the event of an accident, reports the BBC.

Marie Vesco, 19, was killed after a collision involving two cars on the A23 near Hickstead in 2008. She had been cycling to the coast with friends when she died.

Now on the five-year anniversary of her daughter's death, her mother has spoken out to request a change in the law that would see the UK join the vast majority of other EU nations in having a 'no fault' law for motorists involved in collisions with more vulnerable road users.

At present the UK is one of just five countries in the European Union not to have a 'strict liability' law that would see motorists convicted of an offence after a collision with a more vulnerable road user.

Under the present law, a cyclist has to prove that the motorist did something to break the law to secure a prosecution. This can be very hard to prove and means that in most cases motorists escape punishment, even when a cyclist is killed.

"Cyclists are like pedestrians, vulnerable to other road users, and you must pay attention to them and do what you must do to protect them," said Ms Vesco.

"When you have car you are responsible and you have a weapon in your hands. A car is very heavy, a tonne of metal, and a cyclist is not protected," she added.

A strict liability law would shift the burden of proof from the cyclist to the motorist, meaning that it would be for their lawyers to prove that they did nothing wrong in order to escape conviction.

Supporters of Ms Vesco's cause believe that the law change would see cyclists able to claim compensation more easily and quickly and would result in drivers taking far more care around more vulnerable road users.

Opponents, including major motoring organisations, believe that a change in the law is unnecessary and may not make UK roads any safer.

"An assumption of automatic guilt may in fact backfire and lead to more hit-and-run incidents," said Edmund King, the president of the Automobile Association.

"Education, engineering - cycle paths, improved junctions - and enforcement of rules of the road will do far more to improve road safety than changing the law to assume that one party is automatically guilty," he added.


Marie Vesco cycle death: Call for 'at fault' law change (BBC News)