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Cabbie jailed after MGB death crash

Published 23 January 2015

The recent conviction of a London-based minicab driver – found guilty of causing death by careless driving when he crashed into a 1963 MGB roadster – has put the subject of classic car safety back in the headlines. And a spokesman for the AA has since suggested that owners of older vehicles should be aware of the risk they’re taking when choosing to drive their classics.

The accident occurred when Kugannesan Balasubramaniam’s minicab ploughed into an early-model MGB driven by teacher Nick Sennett, who was in stationary traffic on the A40 Westway, west London. The 34-year-old cabbie has since been jailed for nine months and banned from driving for 18 months.

The court heard that the MGB - similar to the one pictured above - 'folded like a penknife' when hit from behind by Balasubramaniam’s Peugeot 5008, which had been tracked travelling at 48mph along the 40mph road. Prosecutor Nicholas Bleaney explained to the court how the MGB had been at a standstill at the time of the crash, due to traffic congestion, and that Mr Sennett stood little chance, 'He hit his head on the windscreen top and suffered some chest injuries but the main injury was a very serious head injury, and sadly he did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead at the scene.'

Since the recent conviction of Balasubramaniam, there have been concerns raised about the safety of classic cars and the potential risks involved when driving them. A report on The Daily Telegraph’s website on 15 January sensationally claimed that 'Motoring organisations are warning classic car owners they could be driving death traps', and went on to suggest that many classics are unsafe in the event of an accident, 'Older vehicles do not have crumple zones and even recent classics like Minis and Ford Capris will come off a lot worse in a collision with the latest models.'

The same report quoted AA spokesman Ian Crowder, who told The Telegraph, 'Classic car owners and users really need to be aware of the risks when they take to the road in a less resilient vehicle. This was obviously a terribly tragic episode for which a driver has been convicted and jailed.'

Crowder went on to suggest that most road users often drive more respectfully when they’re near to classic cars, yet owners and users of older cars should still take extra care when out on the road, 'They need to drive in a manner which respects modern vehicles and they need to know the risks.'

Last summer saw another fatal crash involving a classic car, when Lincolnshire resident Anne Pattrick was killed after being flung from a Ford Anglia 105E in which she was a passenger. The Anglia had been in collision with a Scania truck on the M1 motorway, as Anne and her friend – Linda Upsall – followed their husbands who were in another vehicle heading to a classic vehicle event at Gaydon. With no seat belts fitted in the Anglia, both women were thrown from the vehicle on to the motorway.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Do you feel safe driving your classic car? Do you feel that older vehicles are more dangerous than their modern equivalents? Whatever your views, have your say below or send an email to keith.moody@honestjohn.co.uk.

Comments

thevandriver    on 23 January 2015

I will be owning a classic soon, with the level of driving skill in the uk, I'd be worried about the idiots in the new cars rarther than the old ones, cars get safer and people get lazy.

I accept that a new car is safer, but I ask this;

How many times have you got in a car or read a review that shows visability out of a window is poor?

See, be seen and avoid.

pugoid    on 25 January 2015

pugoid says yes one of the downsides to clasic motoring is crash worthyness having said that my own clasic of use a 1985 audi 100 was then the epitome of safety crumple zones 5 seat belts well placed petrol tank<rearenders fire=""> PROCON TEN and side impact reinforced doors the list virtually unheard of then went on a bit and my personal pref to cars is ones of the 80s as they started to hav proper breaks steerin and tyres and suspension for your intrest google AUDI PROCON TEN and see some advanced thinking well before its time----clasics built not bought. keep it real peeps

martin_lowe    on 25 January 2015

The issue isn't how safe or unsafe a classic car is - the issue is that in the UK the courts regularly give little or no punishment to those who cause death by dangerous driving.

peter jones    on 25 January 2015

lets not forget that the MGB is a small car and being hit from behind at speed while stationary with a larger heavier vehicle will seriously hurt anyone, the newer cars with all the design features to try and prevent occupant injuries still are vulnerable to a rear end collision as all are designed for in motion collision going forward, but just a few minor improvements on the classic cars can avoid a lot of potential injuries but it's always best to avoid an accident in the first place, getting hit from behind is while stopped is probably something that is really unfortunate for the car in front with no fault attributed to them just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Malcolm A    on 31 January 2015

There can be absolutely no doubt that classic cars are not as safe to drive and offer less protection in the event of an accident. In general terms, the older the car the poorer it will perform in these areas. It's obvious really. You only need a brief comparison between say a Morris Minor or an Austin Seven and any modern car to see there is significant issue here. The point is how this may be taken forward. Is the issue just ignored as there are relatively few classic cars on the roads? Will classic insurance premiums suddenly rise? Should some classic cars be banned from public roads on safety grounds? I am not keen to see any change, but when I have driven my 1955 Land Rover on the road I have been very aware of the risks. Many modern tractors have an on road performance to match my Land Rover and they require flashing amber beacons. The classic car movement may need to take a lead on this issue now.

edlithgow    on 1 February 2015

Risk per mile is undoubtedly higher, but the mileage tends to be low, so overall risk of running a classic at typical mileages may not be much worse.
Most of the risk is to the occupants, rather than third parties, so morally there isn't that much of an issue, and the argument for additional regulation (ban? exclude from motorways? special speed limit? .more anal MOT? ) is thereby weakened.
The related environmental issues are often advanced in justification of, for example, scrappage schemes, but that ignores the environmental cost of scrapping an old vehicle and producing its new replacement.

tonyg    on 21 February 2015

I've studied the construction of some very old cars from the 1950s from when I was a small child. Sorry, but I like my big 5 star NCAP saloons. They may be devils to work on compared to classics, - but if I had a Classic I'd trailer it to events, both for it's well being and mine.

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