A coach driver has been found guilty of causing the deaths of three people in a ‘devastating and avoidable’ collision on Valentine’s Day last year.
Alan Peters, 78, from Ambleside Valley Drive, Gravesend, was today (Wednesday) convicted of three counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Allan Evans, 59, from Islington, London, Tom Aldridge, 20, and Nathan Reeves, 23, both from Newport Pagnell, tragically died when the coach being driven by Peters collided with their car, which was stationary on the hard shoulder between junctions 12 and 13 of the M1.
A fourth man, Jake Dorling, suffered serious injuries in the collision including a fractured skull and a punctured lung.
Jake, Tom, and Nathan were being given a lift back to Buckinghamshire by Allan following a night out in London when the fatal incident happened.
The jury heard how Peters failed to see signs saying that the hard shoulder was not to be used except for in emergencies and travelled along it for almost three minutes before colliding with the car – which had its hazard warning lights activated.
The four had pulled over on the hard shoulder of the motorway after the oil light lit up on the dashboard.
The driver had just finished topping up the oil and was preparing to set off again when the collision occurred.
PC David Clarke, said: “This was an utterly devastating incident which resulted in three innocent men having their lives cut short.
“What makes this even more tragic is that the collision was completely avoidable.
“Peters consistently ignored signs saying that the hard shoulder was for emergencies only and also had ample time in which to see the car and move to a different lane.
“His lack of attentiveness on that fatal morning has forever changed the lives of four families and Peters will have to live with that for the rest of his life.
“I would like to urge every driver to take a moment to learn the rules regarding managed motorways and to ensure that you know what the signs mean in relation to using the hard shoulder.
“Just a few minutes familiarising themselves with this vital information could help prevent further tragic incidents such as this.”
Peters will be sentenced in December.