YouTube lorry shunt driver keeps licence
- 26 May 2010
- From the section Lancashire
A lorry driver who was shown on YouTube driving along a motorway with a car trapped in front of his cab has been told he can keep his licence.
The footage showed a Renault Clio being pushed at high speed along the A1(M), near Wetherby, Yorkshire, in January.
The lorry driver, John Tomlinson from Lancashire, appeared before North West traffic commissioner Beverley Bell.
She told him he could retain his LGV driving licence because he could not see, hear or smell the car.
At the hearing at the Traffic Area Office in Warrington, Cheshire, Ms Bell praised Mr Tomlinson's coolness and "clear head" on discovering the Clio attached to his lorry.
Sean Joyce, Mr Tomlinson's solicitor, told the hearing how Clio driver Rhona Jane Williams was joining the southbound carriageway of the A1 (M) at junction 44 when the incident happened at around 0830 BST on 13 January.
The slip road joins the middle lane of the motorway, so she was effectively undertaking the 44-tonne tanker, Mr Joyce said.
Ms Williams, a vet from York, told police she felt a "bump" as the vehicles came together and her car pivoted 90 degrees.
Unaware of the incident, Mr Tomlinson continued driving until a motorist began flashing his hazard lights.
Mr Tomlinson, from Clitheroe, brought his lorry to a stop on the hard shoulder and only became aware of Ms Williams in the Clio when he got out of his vehicle.
He tried to free her but the door was jammed so he reversed his tanker about 3ft (91cm) to release the car.
Ms Bell told Mr Tomlinson that it was "absolutely clear" that he could not see Ms Williams' Clio.
"What you found when you pulled into the hard shoulder must have come as a complete shock and I think what you did, in reversing your tanker to release the Clio, was of huge credit to you.
"You showed, in my view, coolness and a clear head.
"I feel it is entirely inappropriate for me to take away your licence.
"You, your employers and the haulage industry should be able to hold your heads up high after this incident."
Ms Bell added that the case illustrated the dangers of lorry blind spots and urged firms to install close proximity mirrors on older vehicles. It is now law for them to be installed in new lorries, she said.
After the hearing, Mr Tomlinson, a lorry driver for 29 years, appeared close to tears and said the pressure of the investigation was "indescribable".
His solicitor added: "This incident was, as they say, a freak of nature and purely accidental."
Ms Williams told the Daily Mail shortly after the incident: "I just screamed at the [emergency services] operator 'I'm going to die, I'm going to die - can you do something?'
"She tried to calm me down but there wasn't really anything she could do at the end of the phone."
Video footage of the incident was captured on a mobile phone by a passenger in a passing car and has attracted more than half a million views since it was uploaded to YouTube last February.
West Yorkshire Police investigated the incident but took no further action against Mr Tomlinson following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.