The man behind the wheel of a coach taking children on a seaside outing was allegedly seen with his eyes shut and his chin resting on his chest just before the vehicle came off a motorway and crashed, a court heard.
Stroud Magistrates’ Court was told that one child and five adults were injured in the road traffic accident on the M5 in Gloucestershire in August 2014.
The coach driver, 60-year-old Robert Blakemore, of Wolverhampton, was banned from driving for 15 months, fined £165 and ordered to take an extended test, after admitting he drove without due care and attention.
The coach – operated by Prospect Coaches, of Stourbridge – was taking a group from a children’s centre in Sandwell, West Midlands, on a beach trip to Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. A total of 53 people were on the coach at the time of the accident.
Magistrates heard that three passengers had seen Mr Blakemore wake up when a girl screamed as the coach drifted towards the motorway’s hard shoulder. The witnesses said the scream had shocked Mr Blakemore but he had been unable to bring the vehicle under control.
Driver broke leg
The court heard that witnesses had seen Mr Blakemore driving with his chin on his chest and his eyes closed before the accident.
Breath tests carried out after the accident indicated that Mr Blakemore had not been drinking and an examination of the coach revealed it had no mechanical faults, the court was told.
Mr Blakemore, who has diabetes, told magistrates he had not blacked out. He said he was on sick pay and was off work after breaking a leg in the accident, adding that if he was banned from driving he would lose his job.
If you’ve been injured in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, contact Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone to see if you could make a personal injury claim.
Accident Advice Helpline also urges those involved in a road crash to get the names of any witnesses, swap insurance information with other drivers and, if possible, take photographs of the scene.