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Was This Justice ?

16th September 1955
Page 32
Page 32, 16th September 1955 — Was This Justice ?
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

y AST month, a coach driver, Mr. W. H.

Harrison, was fined £10, with £3 14s. 6d. costs, at Oxford, on a charge of driving a coach in a dangerous manner. A police inspector said that the coach overtook a car travelling towards Oxford and cut in, striking the vehicle and forcing it on the pavement, where it hit an electric standard, with the result that three people were injured.

The car driver claimed that his speed was 18-20 m.p.h.. he was about 2 ft. from the kerb and the coach was so close that he could have touched it. Two of his passengers said that the coach "slowly wormed its way past. . . ."

Mr. Harrison said that he had followed the car for nearly a mile and it kept varying its speed. Because of the way it was being driven, he decided to overtake it before getting into thick traffic. The road was clear and the car was close to the kerb. He was being followed by another coach and when about 150 yards ahead of the car, he saw in the mirror that both vehicles had stopped, and he went back to investigate.

A passenger in his coach gave evidence that Harrison passed the car quite normally, allowing about 2 ft. clearance, but the car suddenly swerved to the kerb and bounced off it. Similar evidence was given by another passenger in the second coach, who said that there was no apparent reason for the car to swerve in before it bounced back and grazed the coach.

No doubt appears to have been cast on the evidence of the witnesses for the defence and it certainly seems to show quite clearly that the coach driver was not to blame, but that the car driver became nervous and that it was his action in turning sharply into the kerb which caused the accident. Even the evidence given by the car driver and his two passengers did not appear to indicate that the coach had hit the car before it swerved into the kerb; in fact, that of two of the occupants was to the effect that the coach was travelling quite slowly. As the road was clear, there was no apparent need for the coach to cut in.

Such a case as this deserves further and close investigation, for the verdict would appear to have been against the weight of evidence.

One of the difficulties in the event of a serious accident is that the police sometimes seem overkeen on finding a cause for a charge and the scales may possibly be weighed down against the heavier vehicle. It is no offence to overtake when the way is clear and in this instance there was little or no evidence of cutting-in.


People: W. H. Harrison
Locations: Oxford

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