Sleepy taxi driver crashes into airport lamppost

A taxi driver who fell asleep at the wheel at Sumburgh Airport has been disqualified for one year and ordered to resit the extended driving test.

Vanessa Jane Johnston, 54, of St Magnus Street, Lerwick, was also fined £400 when she admitted a charge of dangerous driving – and is likely to lose her job as a result of the offence.

Her car crashed into a lamppost on 1st July, in an incident which Lerwick Sheriff Court heard “exemplified” the dangers of getting behind the wheel while too tired to drive.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said building work had been going on at the main terminal building, with scaffolding covering the exterior.

“She did not hurt herself, which was fortunate, but clearly there was scaffolding very close to it, and that could have been very significant,” he said.

The fiscal added Johnston had been working on a permanent night-shift for three years before changing her working pattern. She had struggled to adjust to her change in sleeping pattern.

“It exemplified the dangers of getting behind the wheel when you are tired.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Johnston was “full and frank” in her admission.

He added the collision was at a low speed and there was no-one else around.

Mr Allan said the consequences for Johnston were very serious, not least because she faced losing her job. He said she had felt tired, had opened her window and played music but had been overcome with tiredness.

Sheriff Philip Mann told Johnston: “As the procurator fiscal has said, this just goes to show the dangers of getting behind the wheel of a car when you are tired. Sometimes tiredness can come over you whilst you are driving, but I think you probably knew you were tired even before you set out.”


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