German tourist drove on wrong side of road
A German tourist who became disorientated after reversing onto the A86 road, near Moy Lodge, colliding with another car while on the wrong side of the road, has been banned from driving in the UK for eight months.
Matthias Maximilian Hinkel, 30, from Kaiserslautern, appeared at Fort William Sheriff Court last week and pleaded guilty to an amended charge of careless driving on the A86 on August 10 last year.
Procurator Fiscal Ross Carvel told the court the collision occurred at 11.30am on the morning of the day in question.
‘The complainer was travelling at 60mph and tried to avoid a head-on collision with the accused's vehicle and drove onto the verge. But this was unsuccessful and there was a head-on impact on the complainer's side of the road.'
Mr Carvel added Hinkel was taken to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, with a suspected spinal fracture but it turned out he was less seriously injured.
Hinkel's girlfriend, however, needed hospital treatment in intensive care for a fractured spine and ribs and a liver injury, plus surgery to stop internal bleeding.
A man in the complainer's car was treated in hospital for a fractured hip.
The vehicle's driver and a two-year-old toddler who were also in the car were uninjured.
Defence agent Hamish Melrose said his client, a 30-year-old electrical engineer who qualified at Kaiserslautern University last year, had been on holiday and the couple were travelling in a hired car.
'They pulled off the road onto a forestry trail on the opposite side of the road with a view to doing a u-turn and heading back the way they had come,' said Mr Melrose.
‘But there was no area available to do a three-point-turn and he therefore reversed out onto the road, but became disorientated in his own view and ended up driving on the wrong side of the road.
‘He first realised he was on the wrong side when he spotted the oncoming vehicle and there was more or less a head-on collision.
‘He did try to swerve to avoid it but there was insufficient time. Mr Hinkel was in a state of shock after the accident and was found apologising to the driver of the other vehicle.' As well as banning him from the road, Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald also fined Hinkel £640. ‘This was a very serious matter with serious consequences,' she said.
‘But I have to be mindful of the charge you have pleaded guilty to, which is one of careless driving.'