Farmers warned over unsafe loads
CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM Farmers have been warned to make sure they do not add to the dangers on Norfolk roads after a tractor driver was convicted of dangerous driving after three bales of hay fell from his trailer into the path of an oncoming car.
Farmers have been warned to make sure they do not add to the dangers on Norfolk roads after a tractor driver was convicted of dangerous driving after three bales of hay fell from his trailer into the path of an oncoming car.
Maxine Corder, who had undergone an advanced driver training course, managed to take evasive action to avoid the heavy bales crashing into her Peugeot 206 as she drove along the A1067 Fakenham Road.
Her car was described by one witness as becoming “airborne” as it veered into a roadside storm drain to avoid the hazard and a Norfolk police officer said it could have proved fatal if one of the bales, which can weigh up to half a ton, had struck her car.
The bales of hay were secured by just a single piece of rope and tractor driver John Piper, 63, told police afterwards he had been loading this way for 40 years.
Norwich Crown Court heard that the trailer was also in a dangerous state with missing wheel bolts, no brakes and badly worn tyres.
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Richard Wood, prosecuting, said the trailer should have had a brake which could have been operated from the tractor.
Piper, of Fakenham Road, Attlebridge, had denied dangerous driving on July 24 last year but was convicted by a jury who deliberated for just an hour.
Judge Peter Jacobs fined Piper £1,750 and £1,616 costs and imposed nine penalty points on his licence.
Judge Jacobs said that he was concerned his employer had not been prosecuted as well as Piper.
He told Piper: “This vehicle was unsafe and there is not a shadow of a doubt about it. The worry I have is that you don't seem to see it.”
He said the tractor was on a public road and the bales should have been better secured. The trailer was also not properly maintained and he said there seemed to have been a “cavalier attitude”.
The judge said: “This vehicle was being loaded as quickly as possible just to maximise the number of trips.”
He added: “There are enough dangers on Norfolk roads without this sort of problem.”
Robert O'Sullivan, defending, said that Piper was a decent honest hard working man of previous good character and said that he had not driven a tractor and trailer on a public road since the accident.
He said that Piper had suffered cardiac problems but was now working on a golf course tending the greens.
Afterwards, Mrs Corder said that she has suffered whiplash injury and back problems since the crash but felt lucky to have escaped without more serious injury.