Lorry driver admits injuring motorcyclist after motorway footbridge crash

|News, Driving offences

 lorry driver who caused a footbridge to collapse onto a busy motorway after his load struck it, has pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving today (Thu 14 Dec).

A motorcyclist was left with serious injuries after sliding his bike to avoid colliding with the fallen concrete bridge on the M20 in Kent. The motorway had to be closed for more than 24 hours over the bank holiday weekend in August 2016.

Lorry driver Alan Austen, 64, was pulling a trailer carrying an excavator when the arm of the machinery struck the footbridge at around midday on Saturday 27 August 2016.

Austen appeared at Maidstone Crown Court today where he pleaded guilty to one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also disqualified from driving for three years and must pass an extended test before he will be allowed to drive again.

David Skelton, from the CPS, said: "It was our case that it would have been obvious to a competent and careful driver that the load was too high to be transported safely under the bridge.

"The defendant had supervised the loading of the items and did not measure the height before setting off, ignoring concerns raised by two colleagues. He stopped just prior to the crash to check his load but this was obviously inadequate.

"His actions led to the bridge collapse which left one man with serious injuries and which had a huge financial impact on the whole region, closing off a vital transport link in the South East during a busy travel period.

"It was fortunate that no-one was killed and more people were not hurt in this incident, which could have been much more serious."

Notes to editors

  • David Skelton is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in CPS South-East

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