Fatal Collision Review – The Devils in the Detail


We were recently instructed to review a fatal collision on behalf of a car driver that had been charged with causing death by careless driving whereby he had made a right turn across a road knocking a motorcyclist off travelling in the opposite direction. The charge had been brought against the car driver on the basis that it was viewed there was plenty opportunity to see the motorcyclist and therefore the driving was careless.

Upon reviewing the case papers provided it was quickly evident that there was information to suggest the motorcyclist had been travelling at a speed well in excess of the speed limit for the road he was travelling on and not all witnesses had been spoken to. We requested the 999 recordings from the calls made to the ambulance service and it was apparent by listening to those calls there were witnesses present at the scene who were reporting seeing the motorcyclist travelling at least double the speed limit. These witnesses had never been sought by the police investigation. We were able to trace some of these witnesses who provided statements. Upon requesting the interview notes and first accounts of those witnesses that had provided statements to the police investigation it was evident that information contained in those notes and first accounts were not included in the final statements.

Other physical evidence from the vehicles involved was indicative of the motorcycle travelling at a high speed prior to impact however insufficient analysis of this evidence had been made prior to charge. As a result of further analysis of the physical evidence combined with the witness testimony that was subsequently obtained by our investigation team the case was withdrawn against the car driver as it was discovered that when he started to make his turn the motorcycle was in a position whereby the car driver would not have been expected to have seen the motorcycle. Had the motorcyclist been travelling at the speed limit the collision would not have taken place.

It is imperative in a fatal collision investigation to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, leave no stone unturned in trying to establish the facts for all parties concerned. In this case a car driver was charged with a serious offence and facing a possible prison sentence and a family were under the impression the car driver was largely at fault for the loss of a loved one. Not until the full picture was revealed were these thought processes of those involved changed and this can affect the parties involved immensely for obvious reasons.