‘Difficult decision’: Near miss wake-up call for driver
A COURT has heard an elderly Ipswich man was lucky to escape unharmed after a truck slammed into his vehicle as he attempted a U-turn on the Cunningham Highway.
The 86-year-old driver had become confused after heading the wrong way down the highway near the Redbank Plains Rd on ramp on January 4.
A 45-tonne truck bore down on the man's vehicle, colliding with the rear.
While it destroyed the vehicle, the driver was not injured.
Paul Gilbert Rollo Jones, a retiree from Flinders View, went before Ipswich Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle on the Cunningham Highway at Blackstone.
Prosecutor Sergeant Narelle Lowe said police came across the accident and spoke to Jones who said he didn't know where he was and had decided he was going the wrong way so did a U-turn.
When he realised the traffic in both lanes was heading toward him he did another U-turn at the Redbank Plains on-ramp.
Snr Const. Lowe said a 45-tonne truck was merging onto the highway.
The truck driver couldn't slow in time and collided with the rear of Jones's car.
Magistrate Virginia Sturgess sought further clarification as to exactly what occurred, Snr Const. Lowe saying Jones had turned in front of the oncoming truck after travelling against the traffic flow.
The crash was to be a defining moment for Jones, with lawyer Nick Gillece saying he was now taking steps to surrender his licence.
He outlined the productive working life of Jones, including a long stint with Queensland Rail.
The court heard Jones's wife died in 2018 after 50 years of marriage.
"He has suffered a great deal of stress going through this," Mr Gillece said.
"He feels deeply embarrassed.
"It is an isolated offence based on an error of judgment."
Mr Gillece sought a fine or good behaviour bond.
"He instructs he may seek a licence in the future subject to being medically fit," he said.
Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said Jones clearly wasn't medically fit at this time.
"With all due respect he clearly shouldn't be driving," Ms Sturgess said.
Mr Gillece said Jones would not be opposed to an absolute disqualification penalty.
Ms Sturgess said Jones had an unremarkable traffic history for a man who had been driving for a very long time.
"It is very difficult to come to the conclusion that at your age your driving days are over," Ms Sturgess said, acknowledging how important and valued a licence is to older people.
"It was an error of judgment and extremely fortunate it did not end up badly with severe consequences for you or others.
"It was a downright dangerous situation for you.
"You were driving the wrong way, then realised and did a U-turn on the highway with a truck entering the highway.
"It struck your vehicle but it could well have ended up with a much worse situation than it did.
"It is not a minor offence."
Ms Sturgess said it was a wake-up call.
Jones was given a $1000 good behaviour bond and disqualified absolutely from driving.
Jones can reapply for his licence after two years if he wishes to.