'Catastrophic' timber haulage accident averted

Image caption, The lorry was transporting a load of logs on the A9

A haulage firm has been banned from the roads for three weeks after one of its vehicles was spotted carrying a badly-secured load of logs.

Giving evidence at a public inquiry, police said they prevented what could have been a "catastrophic" accident by stopping the transporter.

Highland Car Crushers was also criticised for a separate case where a skip was not secured to a trailer.

The timber incident happened on the A9 near Inverness last December.

Traffic Commissioner for Scotland Joan Aitken criticised the Inverness and Black Isle-based firm's director Hunter Fraser for his attitude to road safety.

She said: "There cannot be chances with safety and loadings. Chances cannot be taken. Safety must come before profit."

Licence warning

The commissioner warned that the company could lose its licence altogether if there was any further evidence of unsafe operating.

As well as suspending the licence for three weeks and preventing any of the vehicles from being used, she banned the operator from any expansion for 18 months.

The driver of the timber lorry - William Hay, of Ardersier - was banned from driving lorries for four weeks.

Ms Aitken said he should not have travelled with the load.

She added that Mr Hay had already been prosecuted and fined at Dingwall Sheriff Court and three points put on his licence.

The suspensions ordered by Ms Aitken starts from 16 August.

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