Case Study

Head-on collision took life of Cornwall cyclist

Incident date: 
Sun, 11 Nov 2012

John Phillips, 50, was out cycling with two friends on Sunday, November 11, 2012 when he was in collision with a vehicle, which was towing a trailer on an unclassified road just outside St Mabyn.

Mr Phillips, from Delabole, died at the scene from multiple bone fractures and a brain haemorrhage. It was estimated the collision speed was between 35 and 39mph.

Although Mr Phillips was wearing a high visibility jacket and helmet, the equipment was simply not designed to withstand the force of the impact, Truro Coroner’s Court heard on Monday February 10th.

Stephen Hyde, of St Mabyn, was driving his Land Rover out of the village up the hill towards the hamlet of Longstone when Mr Phillips suddenly came around the corner on the wrong side of the road. Mr Phillips directly collided with the front of the Land Rover at a vertical position having made no attempt to hit the brakes or steer away.

A police investigation found that Mr Hyde was in the correct position on the road and driving at the legal speed of 28mph when Mr Phillips collided with the vehicle.

The potential impact of adverse weather conditions was also ruled out as visibility was good and no road defects were found.

Mr Phillips’ bicycle was also in good condition with no malfunctions.

Police collision investigator MPC Mike Lackey told the inquest that in critical moments cyclists and motorbike riders “often focus on potential hazards so intensely that they fail to take the necessary action and therefore hit the object directly”.

Mr Lackey said Mr Phillips “failed to maintain the position on his side of the road” and believes a lack of riding experience may have contributed to his death.

Mr Lackey said Mr Phillips could easily have taken the bend without going onto the wrong side of the road.

He said that there was no explanation for Mr Phillips’ decision.

Deputy Coroner for Cornwall, Barrie Van den Berg, recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.

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