Driver fined after hitting woman on zebra crossing

An elderly motorist has been fined £440 and handed six penalty points after he admitted knocking over a pedestrian on a zebra crossing – resulting in her sustaining “truly life-changing injuries”.

John Desmond Black, 75, of Hamilton Park, Bressay, was unaware of the rules surrounding zebra crossings when he drove through Lerwick on 18th January and ran into the woman.

The pedestrian was using the crossing “in an entirely appropriate manner” at the Viking Bus Station.

She sustained “significant injury” to her ankle, and was unable to bear weight on it for two months.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Wednesday it was unclear she would ever make a full recovery.

Black pleaded guilty to careless driving when he appeared before Sheriff Ian Cruickshank.

He failed to slow down and give way to pedestrians who had the right of way.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said conditions were dark and wet as Black approached the crossing.

“As is clear from the complaint, the complainer was using the zebra crossing in an entirely appropriate manner,” he said.

“Other traffic had stopped recognising that pedestrians had the right of way.”

He described pedestrians using the crossing – “and for some reason the accused simply drove onto the zebra crossing”.

“He was driving at an appropriate speed at the time, which was a low speed, but for whatever reason he never saw her and was unable to react, and she was knocked to the ground.”

The woman was taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital for treatment to a serious injury to her ankle.

“It’s not clear she will ever make a full recovery,” Mr MacKenzie said. He added there was a high risk of arthritis, and said the woman had been unable to return to work.

“She is still a long way from a full recovery, and it’s doubtful whether there ever will be a full recovery. These are truly life-changing injuries for this lady.”

The court heard comments made by the accused had shown he had been unaware of how to negotiate a zebra crossing, and had asked how pedestrians on the crossing had not seen him.

Defence agent Gregor Kelly said he had discussed “the niceties of the Highway Code with regard to zebra crossings” with Black.

He said Black wished to apologise to the woman, adding he wished her a speedy recovery.

Mr Kelly said Black had been driving since he was 17, had no previous convictions and had not been involved in any accident.

Black had been in Lerwick to pick up his wife from language classes.

Mr Kelly said that Black had maintained the street lighting in the area was “not great”.

He cited a witness account who had stated the lighting was not very good. Black, Mr Kelly added, was later asked by police to read a registration number from 20 yards and “passed with flying colours”.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said the consequences for the pedestrian were “very severe”.

But he said the terms of the legislation meant he had to consider the degree of Black’s carelessness rather than the consequences of his driving.


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