The consequences of ignoring the signs of fatigue have been demonstrated once again when a courier truck driver took his eyes off the road for just a few seconds and slammed into a stationery motorist and tow truck driver assisting her on the side of the road.
The accident which took place in February 2012 once again made headlines last week when the truck driver was sentenced to a minimum of 18 months of in prison over the double fatality.
The New South Wales truck driver became distracted while he claims he reached into the back of the cab to get a bottle of water. The judge however found this claim difficult to believe because had this been the case, the man would have had plenty of time to notice the 2 vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
The following excerpt from a post on Fullyloaded.com.au goes on to explain what happened,
University student Sarah Frazer, 23, and tow truck driver Geoffrey Clark, 40, were killed instantly by Barnett’s truck as Mr Clarke was loading Ms Frazer’s broken-down car in a narrow breakdown lane near Berrima, between Sydney and Goulburn.
According to reports Barnett reported being distracted while he looked into his rear view mirror and reaching for his water bottle. Justice Stephen Hanley said that while Barnett was most certainly distracted, he failed in his obligations to ensure that the road ahead was clear.
Although the sentence seems harsh, Justice Hanley said that it was his obligation to hand down a sentence that would send a message to the public and drivers of heavy vehicles that would deter them from dangerous driving behaviour.
It has been alleged that Barnett must have been distracted for more than eight seconds to have missed the 2 stationery vehicles in front of him and to have missed the flashing lights of the tow truck on the side of the road.
Following the handing down of Barnett’s sentence reports say he was hugged by the father of one of the victims of the crash. Videos were posted of Mr Barnett being hugged by the victims father Mr Peter Frazer as they both wept,
A video on the Sydney Morning Herald website shows Frazer displaying further sympathy for the guilty truck driver.
“We don’t hate him, we feel so sorry that he has to go through this, the rest of his life is also ruined,” Mr Frazer says.
“We hope that the only positive thing that comes out of this is that it becomes a clear signal to the community that we can’t have people drive distracted. People die, families are shattered.
“We don’t want Kaine to be there in prison for the next 18 months to three years … but it has to act as a signal to the rest of the community, you’ve got to change your habits.”