Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Ban and fine for driver who ignored Forth Road Bridge HGV ban

Lorry on Forth Road Bridge Image copyright Forth Road Bridge

The driver of the lorry that overturned on the Forth Road Bridge in January's gales, blocking it for 19 hours, has been fined £1,000 and banned from driving for two years.

Aleksander Niemiec, from Macclesfield in Cheshire, was also ordered to re-sit the driving test and HGV licence test.

Niemiec, 55, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on 11 January by failing to comply with road signs.

The signs said the bridge was closed to high-sided vehicles due to high winds.

He appeared before Sheriff Kenneth Maciver at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier with a Polish interpreter.

Fiscal Depute Peter Motion said the incident at about 02:00 damaged 14m of the metal railing on the central carriageway.

Niemiec, he added, had suffered injuries to his head and hands.

Image copyright Forth Road Bridge

His solicitor, Gordon Stewart, said his client had been in this country for nine years and been driving for 35 years, mostly as a lorry driver.

He had a clean licence and no previous convictions, but since the incident had lost his job and was now living on small savings.

"He had noticed speed restrictions signs" said Mr Stewart "but did not notice that high-sided vehicles were banned".

"He is fully aware of the severe impact this had", he added.

Sheriff Maciver told Niemiec: "This was a wilful disregard for the road signs. The consequences were considerable.

"The bridge was closed for a long time and it is a major artery for road traffic in Scotland.

"It caused major diversions for many hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles, and inconvenience because of your stupidity."

He added that the cost of repairs to the bridge must have amounted to a large sum of money.

The sheriff said the minimum disqualification required by the law was 12 months.

He said: "In your case it will be doubled to two years and you are ordered to sit and pass the extended test to drive at the end of that period and also the HGV test".

As for the financial penalty, the sheriff said: "The very least I can consider in your case is £1,000 and that is taking into account your financial situation and your plea of guilty at the first calling."

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