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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Andrew Raeside [2011] FAI 16


In terms of section 6(1)(a) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976, the Sheriff found that Andrew Raeside died at 00.20am on 3rd February 2010, within a Mercedes tractor unit cab, on its impact with the Loch Faskally foreshore after breaching bridge parapet barriers, detaching from the trailer unit and falling to the foreshore. The accident occurred on the Coronation Bridge on A9 trunk road, 460 metres south of its junction with B8019 road.

In terms of section 6(1)(b), the cause of death was multiple cardiothoracic injuries caused by blunt force trauma resulting from the deceleration force caused by the cab's impact with the ground. The cause of the accident was driver error. In terms of section 6(1)(c), the accident might have been avoided by driving within the speed limit applicable at the locus and at a speed appropriate for the road conditions at the time of the accident.

The deceased was, at the time of death, working as an HGV driver with Brogan Fuels and returning from Muir of Ord, where he had earlier made a delivery of kerosene. At the time of the accident, the weather and road conditions were not ideal, with snowfall resulting in a slippery road surface and reduced visibility.

Having heard evidence, the Sheriff noted that Mr Raeside was not wearing his seat belt, but this did not contribute to his death, nor was the absence of an airbag in the tractor cab significant. In respect of possible causes of the accident, it was clear that Mr Raeside lost control of his articulated lorry, which collided with the barrier bounding the northbound carriageway of the Coronation Bridge and the cab breached that barrier. Thereafter the cab disconnected from the trailer and fell, impacting with the ground below the bridge. The Sheriff was satisfied that the lorry jacknifed for the reasons set out in the Police crash investigation report. Road conditions were a possible contributory factor to the accident, and it was likely the deceased was travelling at a speed in excess of the applicable speed limit for the vehicle. Whilst he was satisfied that the deceased was travelling at excessive speed for the road and conditions, in light of the evidence, the Sheriff could not come to any determinative conclusion that that played any part in the accident, although it was a relevant factor to be considered in terms of section 6(1)(c). The Sheriff made a determination to that end. Further, in light of the conclusions reached by the accident investigators to the effect that all of the causes of the accident were to some extent attributable to driver error, the Sheriff considered that he could make that general determination.

The Sheriff did not consider that he could make any determination regarding the bridge design. Even if the bridge parapet had been designed to the higher standard, it was unlikely that it would have contained the tractor unit. In any event, the Sheriff did not consider any upgrade of the bridge parapet could be considered reasonable in the circumstances. No findings were made in respect of section 6(1)(d) or (e).