A bus driver has successfully appealed his conviction after he was charged with dangerous driving because he ‘failed to leave a sufficient gap’ when driving past a parked van and pedestrian.
At Aberdeen Sheriff Court, Charles Alexander Henderson was convicted of a dangerous driving charge when it was ruled he drove ‘far too close’ to pedestrian Alexander Morrison and caused a ‘high risk of harm’ to the complainer on 3 January 2018.
Alongside Appeal Sheriff Michael O’Grady and Appeal Sheriff Andrew Cubie, Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen QC heard the appellant was alleged to have driven the bus in a manner that failed to leave a sufficient gap between a vehicle and Mr Morrison, contrary to section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1998.
After viewing the CCTV footage – which came from three different positions on the bus – the Sheriff Appeal Court quashed Mr Henderson’s conviction as the appellant’s driving did not meet the test for dangerous or careless driving. The Appeal Court found Mr Morrisons’ presence on the roadway was due to him having parked his van on a double yellow line while making deliveries and, by doing so, Mr Morrison was in fact ‘impeding or blocking the inside lane’. Although Mr Henderson did not allow for Mr Morrison to get into his van and, instead, travelled past him, there was ‘no contact’ between the bus and the pedestrian.
The judges described the appellant’s driving as ‘misjudgement’ rather than dangerous or careless driving as the appellant did not show a disregard for the safety of other road users. Additionally, the ‘unfortunate coincidence’ that the complainer walked around his vehicle into the path of the bus is a situation that arises daily on the roads. Both driver and pedestrian were required to exercise their own judgement and crucially, there was no impact between the bus and the complainer.
Sheriff Principal Stephen concluded:
“The sheriff was not entitled to find the appellant’s driving met the test for dangerous driving. We are not satisfied that the standard of the appellant’s driving in this particular instance meets the lower test for careless driving.
“In these circumstances clearly the conviction for section 2 (dangerous driving) must be quashed and there is no finding there has been a contravention of section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.”
According to section 2 of the Road Traffic Act, if ‘it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous’, then the motorist has been dangerously driving.
A conviction for dangerous driving may result in disqualification from driving, up to two years imprisonment, and an unlimited fine. The penalties are then aggravated should you cause death as a result of dangerous driving, with up to 14 years in prison. Other factors which can allow for a more severe sentence to be imposed include children in the vehicle and damage to property. If you have been charged with dangerous driving, it is imperative you seek the help of a qualified road traffic lawyer.
A dangerous driving conviction can have serious consequences. To ensure you get the best outcome following a road traffic offence charge, get in touch with Keith J Tuck Solicitors today via the online enquiry form.