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'Freddie's Law' Momentum To Result In States Debate

The States will debate a proposal in March aimed at improving road safety in Jersey, following the huge support for 'Freddie's Law'.

14 year old cyclist Freddie Dentskevich was seriously injured after being knocked off his bike in St Martin in March last year.

There was no conviction because of 'insufficient evidence'.

A petition to change the law to protect more vulnerable road users has amassed more than 3,600 signatures.

The Constable of St Martin, Karen Shenton-Stone, wants a 'hierarchy of responsibility for road users' to be created based on the level of risk in the event of a collision.

It means people driving the largest vehicles would carry the greatest responsibility, such as a lorry over a car, a car over a cyclist and a cyclist over a pedestrian.

"It really brings home to everybody that if you're in a van or a large Landrover or something, you can cause far more harm to somebody than a pedestrian can, or a horse rider or a cyclist.

"It's really to make sure that everybody takes responsibility.

Constable Shenton-Stone speaking in the States Assembly in 2019.

"I've had an email from somebody saying that 'Oh this is all the fault of motorists'. Well it's not all the fault of motorists. I'm a motorist.

"We all have to take some kind of responsibility. We're never going to move forward if we have this sort of 'them and us (attitude), us as car drivers against those as cyclists, or those as pedestrians or horse riders.

"We've all got a right to be safe."

The UK government launched a consultation in July 2020 on proposed changes to the Highway Code to improve protection for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

Constable Shenton-Stone says doing the same thing in Jersey would 'be of considerable benefit' because:

  • "Firstly, it would ensure that the responsibility of those involved in incidents such as the one experienced by Freddie Dentskevich and his family accurately reflect the risks that their chosen forms of transport carry to other road users.
  • "Secondly, it would ensure that more Islanders felt safe to use other forms of transportation on the road, due to the need for drivers of heavier vehicles to take greater responsibility.
  • "Thirdly, through the States Assembly’s adoption of Deputy Ward’s Proposition P.79/2020, we have agreed to give priority in law to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in designated Green Lanes and designated ‘quiet lanes’ in our Parishes. By adopting a hierarchy of road users, we provide further incentive for priority to be given to these listed groups, and for drivers to take particular caution when travelling along these routes."

She also wants a body to review the current laws and infrastructure to find ways of improving road safety, and for this body to bring forward recommendations by the end of 2021.

It's hoped that any ideas could then be introduced before the next election in 2022.

"It is clear that there are gaps in our current legislation that prevents some vulnerable road users from being adequately protected. By adopting a hierarchy of responsibility and launching a review into road safety arrangements, we can make progress on this issue and guarantee that all road users are made aware of what risks they carry when using our roads, and further promote a sustainable culture of safety. 

"With a continuing need to encourage Islanders to adopt more sustainable forms of transport, it is vital that Jersey is able to provide the necessary protections to keep them safe, and a thorough, open review with active public engagement and well-researched findings and recommendations will make significant strides in helping us become a safer, greener and healthier society." - Constable Karen Shenton-Stone.

Freddie's mum Joanna has told Channel 103 that she's supportive of this proposition and the public support she's received, but she would like more clarity on the proposed hierarchy of responsibility and how it would work.

It's set for debate in early March.

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