Defendant was driving an articulated lorry with a skeleton type trailer carrying a container. He was travelling on a route that he had regularly used in the past. As he was early, he decided to stop for a coffee and turned left at a roundabout, intending to pull into a filling station. He was unable to do so, due to a central reservation, and therefore had to continue along an A road with which he was unfamiliar.

He travelled for a few miles and came upon a lay-by that was separated from the carriageway by a kerbed median. He brought his vehicle to a stop at the far end of the lay-by, so the front end of his unit was facing onto the carriageway.

It was during the hours of darkness and the Defendant could see vehicles travelling from his left in the distance and nothing coming from his right. He then proceeded to carry out his manoeuvre, to travel back in the same direction. As he did so he realised that he would not be able to turn his unit round in one go and therefore had to reverse back, blocking the carriageway. He then pulled forward and was checking the trailer wheels as they passed over the kerbed median, by hanging out the window. He then saw a car pass by and strike the trailer. The driver unfortunately died at the scene.

The prosecution was brought on the basis that the Defendant was careless, in that he should never have carried out a U-turn manoeuvre on a carriageway during the hours of darkness.

The expert evidence was agreed that the deceased would not have been visible to the Defendant when he started to carry out his manoeuvre. It was assumed the deceased did not see the trailer, which had visibility markings, due to the fact that the front of the unit was facing in its correct direction and the deceased may have been dazzled by headlights.

We defended the claim on the basis that there was nothing preventing the Defendant from carrying out a U-turn and no signs prohibiting this. Also, the fact that the driver thought he could carry out the manoeuvre in one turn, but then did not manage to do so, did not make him careless. For example, we all, from time to time, misjudge the angle when trying to park our car.

After a two day trial, the Defendant was found not guilty by virtue of a majority verdict. A Defendant’s costs order was made from Central Funds.

Read our article on Motor prosecution: importance of early support.