Sunday, September 27, 2009

Towed boat with no lights hit by lorry on A194M

Towed boat with no lights hit by lorry on A194M

SHIPWRECKED - and it didn’t even happen at sea.

That was the fate of the Lisa P pleasure boat when a truck ploughed into it as it was being towed on a trailer on the A194M in Gateshead.

With no lights on the back of the trailer being pulled by a Range Rover on an unlit section of the road near Follingsby Interchange, it was a sitting duck, a court heard.

Minutes earlier another motorist had a near miss with the unlit trailer and alerted police. But before officers could take action, a 27-tonne HGV smashed into the back of the trailer.

The Range Rover and trailer were shunted 100 yards up the road. The Range Rover was damaged, the trailer and boat were destroyed but no-one was hurt.

Range Rover driver Neal Glendenning faced the music at Gateshead Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to using a trailer in a condition likely to cause danger or injury.

JPs heard everything was shipshape until the 52-year-old, from Front Street, Leadgate, County Durham, hit an unlit section of the motorway at around 7.45pm on March 3.

Prosecutor Kim Elder said: “A witness contacted the police because he had seen a vehicle on the A194M with no type of lighting or reflectors which caused him to swerve and narrowly avoid a collision with it.

“The witness felt so strongly about the vehicle being driven dangerously he stopped and called the police. He thought it wouldn’t be long before there was a collision.”

And that’s exactly what happened when a lorry driver with 38 years’ experience came up behind the trailer.

Miss Elder said the driver, who was carrying pallets, was driving at between 35 and 40mph when he suddenly hit something.

“It was only after the collision when he got out that he realised he had crashed into a boat,” she said. “His vehicle was substantially damaged at the front end.”

A police collision investigator concluded the trailer was home made and not fit for its purpose.

And that there was no lighting at all on the back of the trailer because the cable was not long enough to reach the power point.

John Williams, defending, said the accident has been very costly for Glendenning.

“The boat had only third party insurance and that was written off with a £5,000 loss,” he said.

Magistrates fined Glendenning £85 with £55 costs. His licence was also endorsed.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Seeing the boat destroyed must have been a painful experience for its owner. It is only good fortune that no-one was seriously injured or killed.”

Fresh demand for 'MoT' trailer tests

Friday, September 25, 2009, 09:30

A COUNCILLOR campaigning for an MoT-style test for trailers after the death of a four-year-old boy says a change in the law has not gone far enough.

The Department of Transport recently added a check of the towing hitch to the MOT test for cars.

But Juliette Blake, a Derbyshire county councillor, also wants an annual test of road-worthiness for trailers, and has now written to the Government.

It is the latest step in her fight for tougher laws after Finlay Martin was killed by a runaway trailer in 2007.

The youngster, of Old Road, Heage, was walking with his mother, Zoe, 32, when he was hit. She suffered serious injuries.

An investigation after Finlay's death found that the trailer involved had defective brakes, and that a cable which should have activated the brakes when the vehicle became detached from the car was missing.

Trailers are not subject to annual MoT-style tests, but there is a legal requirement to keep them roadworthy. Coun Blake said: "If there was a crash next week in which 60 schoolchildren on a bus on the motorway were killed by a runaway trailer, there would be public outrage.

"We would see Gordon Brown on television, promising to introduce MoTs.

"By that time it would be too late – 60 parents would have to go through the living hell that Zoe and Wayne Martin have to endure for the rest of their lives, thanks to an unroadworthy trailer, which had seen no maintenance in 30 years, smashing into their sweet little four-year-old boy, Finlay."

Since Finlay's death, Coun Blake has collected 1,500 names on a petition calling for an annual compulsory test of roadworthiness for all trailers.

She also got Derbyshire police to carry out a series of roadside checks, including one in July 2008, which found that 80% of trailers stopped were defective. Problems included corrosion, missing breakaway cables, worn towing hitches and defective brakes.

In September 2008, Mrs Blake wrote to Jim Fitzpatrick, the-then Parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Department for Transport, but claimed she had received no reply.

She has now written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Andrew Adonis, demanding changes to the law.

"We need MoTs for trailers full stop," said Mrs Blake, Derbyshire county councillor and Amber Valley borough councillor for Heage, and the leader of Ripley Town Council.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said it was looking at whether a statutory testing regime was needed for light trailers.

She said: "The evidence we have to date suggests most accidents involving light trailers are not caused by maintenance defects on the trailer.

"Many are caused by the way the towing vehicle was driven or occur because the trailer was not connected to the towing vehicle correctly, or was overloaded. These could be rectified by an MoT test"