Texting lorry driver jailed after fatal crash

A lorry driver who caused a fatal four-vehicle crash while texting on his mobile phone behind the wheel of his truck, has been jailed for five years.

Christopher Kane, aged 67, from Swinton, Rotherham, who had earlier pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving, was sentenced at Doncaster Crown Court on 9 December for his part in the incident that killed 22-year old Jemma O’Sullivan.

The accident took place on 3 September 2010, on the northbound, inside lane of the M18, a mile-and-a-half before Junction 2 at Wadworth, Doncaster.

The driver was travelling in a Mercedes-Benz tractor unit whilst texting and didn't see the stationary traffic ahead. He crashed into the back of a Citroën Berlingo, carrying the victim, which shunted the vehicle into a Scania truck in front causing the Scania to overturn, hitting another car.

A statement released by the victim’s family, following the court hearing, said: “This man has caused devastation to our family by texting while driving an HGV at 55mph on the M18, as we heard in court, one text alone had 117 strikes of the keyboard.”

Kane was also disqualified from driving for five years.

PC Steve Rounds, of the Central Motorway Police Group, says picking up a phone up is the most “distracting activity a driver can carry out”.

He explains: “Picking the phone up to check the text, or just to see who sent the text, takes four seconds: a lorry travelling at 56mph will cover more than 100m with the driver distracted [during this timeframe]. The driver then has to react, and these reaction times are worse than a driver impaired by alcohol.”