Hamilton sheriff convicts man who failed to secure cars on transporter of dangerous driving

A sheriff in Hamilton Sheriff Court has convicted the driver of a car transporter of an offence of dangerous driving under section 1A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 after a car slid off the back of the transporter and injured a pedestrian.

It was argued by the procurator fiscal that Gordon Maule had failed to properly secure the vehicles being carried on the transporter and travelled when it was not safe to do so. An alternative charge under section 40A of the 1988 Act of using a vehicle in a dangerous condition was also advanced.

The case was heard by Sheriff Mungo Bovey QC. Tierney, solicitor, appeared for the accused and Carey for the Crown.

Wet weather 

On 5 December 2019, the accused, an employee of Glasgow Car Movers, had been collecting cars going to auction from Glasgow and taking them back to the company’s base in Uddingston. The weather on that day was very windy with heavy rain. One of the cars he picked up was a three-tonne Jeep, which he secured on the bottom deck of the vehicle with the industry standard safety straps.

The Crown led evidence from the injured party, Mr Andrew McClure, who said that on the day of the accident he was unloading boxes from the back of a delivery van parked on Glasgow Road in Uddingston when a car tried to undertake him and collided with him and his vehicle as he tried to jump out of the way.

Mr McClure was treated at the scene by a passing nurse, who had been driving behind the accused’s transporter and had noticed a Jeep on the lower deck was bouncing around. He was later taken by ambulance to hospital in East Kilbride, where he was treated for a broken left femur. He remained in hospital for 11 days, during which time he underwent surgery to pin his femur bone.

It was agreed by two Crown witnesses that wet weather would increase the chances of a strap slipping off of a secured vehicle. Further, the high suspension of the Jeep increased its chances of becoming loose as it was more prone to moving. The Crown submitted that it should have been obvious to the accused as a competent and careful driver that driving the transporter in its then state would be dangerous.

No evidence was led by the defence, with counsel for the accused making a submission of no case to answer which was repelled by the sheriff.

Danger of loss

In his decision, Sheriff Bovey began by noting: “The evidence permits the conclusion that in the wet conditions prevailing, there was a danger from the loading of the transporter by reason of the use of straps which had a propensity to expand and become loose in such conditions.”

Addressing what should have been obvious to the accused, he went on to say: “The accused has worked as a driver loading vehicles with such straps for four years in the west of Scotland where wet weather is common. An inference can be drawn that he has become aware of the propensity of the straps he uses in his work to become loose in wet weather. In any event, I consider it open to the Court to hold that a person loading cars onto a transporter ought to acquaint himself of the known hazards of doing so.”

Turning to the issue of whether the transporter was in a dangerous state, the sheriff said: “The method of securing the vehicles on the transporter is widely used in the relevant industry. It was the method expected of the accused by his employer. However, I consider these matters to be mitigatory and apply the objective test in this regard.”

He concluded: “Given the danger that the loss of a vehicle poses to other road users and the public in general, I have no doubt that driving a transporter loaded with cars which were secured by a method which he should have known was unsafe in the prevailing conditions fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.”

The accused was therefore convicted of dangerous driving and acquitted of the alternative charge.

Share icon
Share this article: