Bethany Adams death: Mum calls for Bethany's Law on road safety
A coroner is to call for restrictions on new drivers following a teenager’s death when her boyfriend’s speeding car crashed in the Quantocks.
West Somerset coroner Michael Rose yesterday announced his formal request to the Department of Transport under a rule which gives coroners enhanced powers to prevent further deaths, bringing laws “in line with a number of advanced nations”.
Mr Rose wants new drivers to be bound by speed limits of 50mph on open roads and 60mph on motorways, as well as the mandatory display of distinguishing plates, applying for one year.
Six-point penalties would be in place, meaning a driver breaking the rules twice would face an automatic ban.
Bethany Paige Adams, 17, of Williton, died in January last year when a Citroen Saxo driven by her recently qualified boyfriend crashed into a tree on the A358 at Crowcombe.
Yesterday, Bethany’s mother welcomed the proposals. Helen Adams said: “I am very pleased. We said at the very beginning that we would be happy for the coroner to use Bethany’s case to helps save lives, and if it is successful in being passed I would be really happy if it could be called Bethany’s Law.
Bethany’s boyfriend, Charlie Blandford-Corp, of Minehead, who was a novice driver aged 17 at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and was given an 18-month driving ban and suspended prison sentence by Taunton Magistrates.
A witness told an inquest into Bethany’s death that he thought Mr Blandford-Corp was driving at up to 80mph. The speedometer of the crashed car was stuck at 66mph, six miles above the road’s limit. The inquest heard that Bethany had told Mr Blandford-Court to slow down before, when he was driving at 40mph in a 30mph zone.
The coroner considered calling on the Department to introduce the changes last year but first wanted to find out how many accidents were caused by recently qualified drivers. “Despite their assistance I have been unable to obtain such figures although the statistics for 17-23-year-old drivers reveal a large number of fatal and serious accidents,” he said.
Mrs Adams said: “I think both the plates and a reduction in speed are important, and that it would apply to all new drivers. It is very important that a breach would mean six penalty points. At the moment people can speed a few times before their points mount up to 12. Having to display a sign would help other road-users too.”
In New Zealand, where Bethany’s brother, Liam, 24, passed his driving test, people can learn to drive at the age of 15 and pass a test at 16, but new drivers have to obey a 10pm-6am curfew for their first year and may only carry qualified drivers as passengers. They then apply for a full licence.