WA News

Cars are 'lethal weapons': killed cyclist's partner voices her anger and grief

The partner of a cyclist who was killed by a driver preoccupied by a mobile phone has spoken of her fear for other Perth cyclists.

Driven to distraction: hands-free phones are just as distracting as hand-held ones for drivers
Driven to distraction: hands-free phones are just as distracting as hand-held ones for drivers Photo: Janie Barrett

Joanne Leigh Lawrence, 42, on Friday pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

She had hit academic 70-year-old Paola Ferroni at 60km/h near Kings Park in 2014 moments after sending and receiving a series of text messages. 

The state's District Court handed down a three-year prison sentence. 

Ms Ferroni's partner Rosemary Coates understood it was intended to be a lesson to other drivers but she believed a lifetime driving ban was more effective as both punishment and deterrent, she told Radio 6PR 


She had received an apology letter from Lawrence, she said.

"But I think her main regret is the impact on her life, [not] the impact it had on Paola's life by killing her or on my life with the loss of my partner – the total change to my life that I will never be able to recover from," she said.

"It was completely unnecessary ... but even if it is an emergency, even if people are compelled to answer their phones while driving, why not just pull over and park? It is impossible to concentrate on the serious and complex task of driving while thinking about texts and looking at screens."

Ms Coates was once a keen cyclist but had only on Sunday been able to bring herself to get on a Perth bike path for the first time since her partner's death.

She was too afraid to ride on the road and said fresh reports of road rage towards cyclists that same day only increased her fear. 

"Every time I see a cyclist on the road I shudder," she said.

"Cars are lethal weapons and the driver is in charge of that lethal weapon and it is their responsibility to manage it."