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Crash after Visually Impaired driver parked tractor in fast lane

01 March, 2008 by Peter Verhoeven

A visually impaired elderly driver caused a pile-up on the A9 after parking his tractor in the fast lane of the dual carriageway. Robert Simpson stopped the tractor and trailer and got out to walk across the road because he had missed his turn-off by three miles. The 77-year-old, who is registered blind and lives in a nursing home, got lost on his way home from a trip to Perth on the farm vehicle.

He had been driving in the dark, without any lights, on the A9 at an average speed of 10mph, a court heard.

He thought he had missed his turn-off and simply pulled in to the central reservation, leaving the trailer parked across the outside lane of the busy trunk road.

As the pensioner walked across the dual carriageway in the dark he left the trailer, which had no lights, in the path of oncoming traffic.

Several motorists heading south between Perth and Stirling had to swerve to avoid the trailer and two cars collided at high speed.

Neither of the drivers - Charles Lawson and John Alexander were injured although both cars were badly damaged.

Despite being badly shocked, Mr Alexander managed to start the tractor and drive it to a safe place off the road.

At Perth Sheriff Court yesterday, Simpson admitted driving carelessly while knowing he had defective eyesight on the A9 on November 22 last year.

He admitted stopping in the central reservation with the trailer obstructing the fast lane and causing drivers to take evasive action and crash as a result.

Fiscal depute Lucy Keane said: "He was driving a trac- tor and had been in Perth that day. He began to go back to Auchterarder at 3.45pm and it was beginning to get dark.

"He got to the junction at Dalreoch at 4.50pm. At this point he became confused in the dark and pulled into the central reservation and stopped.

"He got out of the tractor and crossed the road, trying to ascertain if he was at the Auchterarder junction. He was, in fact, three miles short of the junction."

She said that Mr Lawson, who was driving a Jaguar at 60mph, suddenly became aware of the tractor in the outside lane. He braked and missed it. Mr Alexander also managed to avoid it narrowly but the two cars collided.

"Mr Alexander managed to start the tractor and he moved it clear of the carriageway. The accused was traced by police and accepted he had left it there."

Explaining why his client was not present in court, solicitor John Buchan said: "He has been unable to make it in. He has travel difficulties.

"His address is a nursing home in Auchterarder. He is incapacitated. His eyesight is further deteriorating and he is registered blind.

"I would recommend he be disqualified until such time as he passes a test of competency to drive. That would inevitably mean a life ban."

Sheriff David Clapham deferred sentence for Simpson, Ruthven Towers, Auchterarder, Perthshire, to attend court in person.

Source: The Herald

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