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Coroner critical of police in Mike Hall inquiry

Poor evidence gathering techniques by police have impacted the ability of the ACT Coroner to give more definitive findings in the inquest into the death of British endurance rider Mike Hall in 2017. 

Mike Hall tragically lost his life while competing in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race when he was involved in a crash with the driver of a motor vehicle near the intersection of the Monaro Highway and Williamsdale Road.

No charges were laid against the 19-year old driver.

Today’s findings were the outcome an inquest which focused on the colour and reflectiveness of Mike’s clothing, light and visibility at the time of the crash and the nature of evidence collection by police.

The Canberra Times reported that Coroner Dr. Bernadette Boss found Mr Hall had been wearing dark clothing at the time of the crash. 

However, the reflective nature of Mr. Hall’s clothing couldn’t be determined because the Coroner recognised that police had not followed normal procedures for collecting evidence.

The driver of the car may have also been negligent, but Dr. Boss said that there were no reasonable grounds to suggest he face any charges due to the loss of crucial evidence, the physical environment of the road at the location and the high standard of negligence required. 

Dr. Boss also made several recommendations regarding the intersection where the crash occurred including that it be subject to a review and speed limits along the Monaro Highway be assessed.

While the Australian road rules allow for steady light, she has also recommended that the ACT amend its legislation to require people who ride bikes to use a flashing rear light when riding in low light conditions on rural roads.

The findings from the ACT coroner once again highlight the risk that people who ride bikes face on rural roads.

While Bicycle Network welcomes the findings of the coroner, we are concerned that the inquiry and recommendations appear to be primarily focused on Mike Hall, what he was wearing or his behaviour, rather than the driver.

Drivers must expect to see people riding bikes every time they drive on our roads, regardless of the time of day or location. Every person who goes out for a bike ride deserves to get home safely. 

Another issue that needs addressing is that while many policing units have highly sophisticated ways of investigating road crashes, the expertise and technical ability when it comes to crashes involving bike riders vary state to state and region to region.

It’s very clear that with increasing numbers of bikes on our roads, police must improve their investigative techniques and practices so that a proper investigation of road crashes can take place.

 

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