We find many distractions on the road – and one which we have all experienced is when we sneeze and our eyes close for a brief moment. But what if that is more than just a once-off sneeze?
We have come across a very interesting story in the Daily Mail which we would like to share:
“A taxi driver accused of causing a man’s death following a car crash has walked free after claiming he was having a ‘sneezing fit’.
Phillip Parker, 38, smashed into Malkit Khatkar’s Vauxhall Vectra as he was driving home from work in the early hours of New Year’s Day last year.
Mr Khatkar, 70, suffered serious spinal injuries in the accident on the A2 at Wilmington, Kent, before dying two weeks later.
Phillip Parker, 38, of Chatham, Kent, was left in floods of tears as he was acquitted for causing death by careless driving at Maidstone Crown Court
Mr Parker denied causing death by careless driving, claiming he only hit Mr Khatkar because he sneezed seven or eight times in a row, which prevented him from seeing the car in front.
The taxi driver, of Chatham, Kent, was left in floods of tears as he was acquitted for causing death by careless driving by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday.
Before the verdict, Anthony Prosser, prosecuting, told the court that Parker was at fault and not driving to the ‘standard of a careful and competent driver’.
He said: ‘The Crown say if he did have a sneezing fit there was at least 30 seconds of visibility of the car in front and plenty of time to brake and do anything to avoid the rear-end collision.
Malkit Khatkar, 70, was initially taken to Darent Valley Hospital in Kent suffering spinal injuries but died two weeks later
‘The Vectra was there to be seen on a straight stretch of road. The reality is he drove into the back of the car, causing the collision.’
Mr Prosser added if sneezing did not explain the cause, it could have been lack of concentration or tiredness.
There were no independent witnesses to the crash, which happened at about 5.20am on a long straight stretch of the coast-bound carriageway.
Off-duty PC William Parish arrived on the scene just after the collision on the inside lane.
The Vectra had been struck from the rear and spun around. Mr Khatkar had to be cut out.
He was taken to Darent Valley Hospital, in Dartford, Kent and then transferred to Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury, Bucks, on January 16.
Parker, who denied the charge, said in a police interview of his sneezing: ‘It didn’t well up, it just – bang – happened.’
He said in evidence: ‘It was just one after another.’
Asked by Mr Prosser how he missed an object in the road directly ahead of him, he replied: ‘All I can tell you is I had a sneezing fit and the car was there.
‘It looked like it was stationary and I went into the back of it. I did brake.’
Mr Prosser said it was not possible to say how fast Mr Khatkar was travelling and it was possible his car was stationary at the time of the collision.
Mr Parker, who suffered a broken collarbone, said his speed was about 50-60mph. He denied being tired.” [Story by Amy Oliver appeared in the Daily Mail]
We pay much attention to the topic of Distractions while driving and specifically the dangers of cellular conversations and texting while driving. This is a powerful reminder that these are not the only distractions that may take our eyes off the road!
For more on Driver Distractions also view: