In January, Joanna Dentskevich launched a petition calling for a change in the law to protect vulnerable road users, after no charges were brought against the driver who hit her son, Freddie, while he was cycling in St Martin in March 2020. The driver drove away but subsequently returned fearing she may have hit someone but this, according to the law, does not amount to fleeing the scene of a crash.
Following the launch of the ‘Freddie’s Law’ petition, which has amassed over 3,700 signatures, St Martin Constable Karen Shenton-Stone lodged a proposition calling on Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis to amend the Island’s Highway Code to create a ‘hierarchy of responsibility for road users’ that is ‘based on the level of risk presented to road users in the event of a collision’.
The proposition was amended by Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis, and will see a structural review of road safety in the Island carried out, in order to ‘identify ways of improving road safety’, focusing on the needs of vulnerable road users.
The amended proposition was passed by 47 votes to nil during last week’s States sitting.
‘The discussion in the Assembly [on Wednesday] demonstrated how seriously the government are taking the issue of having the correct legislation and infrastructure in place to allow us all to use the roads safely,’ said Mrs Dentskevich.
‘When I first posted about Freddie’s accident, I had no idea that in such a short space of time so much could have been achieved and we are really grateful to Karen Shenton-Stone for listening to us as her parishioners and taking this to the next level.
‘The review of the road traffic legislation needs to not just be about hierarchy, it needs to also look at whether it is failing elsewhere and Freddie’s collision, I believe, has shown that some of it is not fit for purpose nor up to date with our counterparts.
‘Article 52 [of Jersey’s Road Traffic Law] allows you to claim that you weren’t trying to avoid prosecution by leaving the scene – but who in their right mind leaves a scene having knocked someone off their bike.
‘Freddie’s situation is by no means an isolated incident,’ she added. ‘Although Freddie was the focus behind [the petition], it was to help everyone else who has been let down in this way. The ideal would be for the review to establish why cyclists involved in collisions seem to be continually let down. We are continually touched by the support we have received and it has given the acknowledgement and respect to Freddie that he deserved that the driver never did.’
Initial findings from the review – including policy recommendations for road safety – are due to be published by the end of 2021.