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27/09/2021

Articulated truck driver 'spluttered' on cup of coffee causing accident

Articulated truck driver 'spluttered' on cup of coffee causing accident

An articulated lorry veered across motorway lanes after its driver ‘spluttered’ on a cup of coffee, Portlaoise district court heard on Thursday.

Aureliu Vatajita, 55, of 48 Belmayne, Park South, Belmayne, Dublin 13 was charged with dangerous driving at the M7 Ballydavis on July 18, 2020.

Sgt JJ Kirby told the court that on the date in question an articulated lorry and trailer was travelling southbound on the M7.

On a left hand curve on the road, the lorry moved from one lane to another.

A black Audi 3 driven by a woman was driven off the motorway as a result. The car became entangled in the barrier. The driver was not injured.

The driver of the lorry said he was choking on a cup of coffee at the time. He had no previous convictions.

Appearing for Mr Vatajita, Colm Hennessy BL said the lorry and its driver had been comprehensively examined and there was no defects. There were no intoxicants.

The driver of the Audi had received minor injuries and this was the subject of a PIAB application.
He noted it was an enormous lorry.

Mr Vatajita has spluttered on a cup of coffee and veered into the overtaking lane, and hence the collision. The manoeuvre was purely accidental. It was an isolated incident for a very experienced driver. There was a lack of any recklessness.

Judge Bernadette Owens noted the State’s position that they were satisfied with a reduction from dangerous to careless driving, and reduced accordingly.

Mr Hennessy said driver was a 55-year old Moldovan man who was a valued employee of the company he was working for.

They were keeping him in employment. He had been driving heavy goods vehicles for 25 years. His clean record spoke for itself.

Judge Bernadette Owens said she was taking into account the defendant was an experienced driver with no previous convictions. She fined him 1,000 euros.

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