14:34 Thursday 20 February 2014

Crash death used in bid for change

Written byROB SMYTH

BURTON’S MP has spoken in a parliamentary debate about dangerous driving after being implored to do so by the wife of a Burton man who died in a tragic accident.

Andrew Griffiths urged the Government to change the law so that people as young as 16 could not drive tractors on main roads.

It came after Jacqui Watson’s life was plunged into despair when her husband died following a collision between his motorcycle (pictured) and a tractor on A515, from Duffield Lane into Pipey Lane, near Newborough.

The Tory MP recalled the events of that tragic day in 2012 during the House of Commons session, as he tried to enact change that would mean ‘no more families have to go through what the Watsons have gone through’.

In the debate, he said: “I am delighted to take part in the debate, principally because I have been asked to by a constituent, Jacqui Watson, who had the terrible plight of seeing her husband, Andrew Watson, killed when his motorbike collided with a tractor that was being driven by a 16-year-old boy.

“I find it incredible that such huge vehicles can be driven on our roads by 16-year-olds.

“It was a fine, sunny evening when Andrew, who was 50 years old and had 34 years of motorcycling experience, was driving along the A515 along with his son Thomas, who is 21, and their friend Jason Hudson.

“They were all experienced motorcyclists.

“They came over the brow of the hill and collided with a tractor being driven by a 16-year-old, who had his girlfriend in the cab.

“The police later found that the tractor was wider than the legal limit for a vehicle driven under a Category F licence by a 16-year-old, but the Crown Prosecution Service, in its wisdom, decided that because it was only marginally bigger, because the other tractor that the boy usually drove had broken down, and because he was apparently of good character, it was unable to prosecute him for any offence.

“I find it incredible that in this country we do not trust 16-year-olds to drive anything larger than a 50cc motorbike. We do not trust them to drive a Ford Fiesta or a Mini, yet we allow them, under Category F licences, to drive vehicles that can be 2.4 metres wide.

“That cannot make sense.”

Mr Griffiths went on to describe the impact of Mr Watson’s death on the lives of members of his family.

He added: “It will not surprise you to learn that the lives of Jacqui and Thomas were devastated by the loss of Andrew. No family should have to go through the plight and turmoil of being told that they have lost a husband or a father as a result of a road traffic accident.

“Accidents will always happen and vehicles will always fall into the wrong hands, but it is up to the Government and to us as parliamentarians to do all we can to mitigate that and ensure that drivers on our roads are proportionately trained, that they are driving within parameters agreed and they are as safe as possible.

“I do not believe that it can be argued that it is safe to allow a 16-year-old to drive a tractor on our roads.

“I urge the Government to look at those laws, ensure that it is satisfied that they are safe and help ensure that no more families have to go through what the Watsons have gone through.”

An inquest into the death of Mr Watson, of Churchward Drive, Stretton, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Police estimates that the trio were riding at speeds of between 82mph and 84 mph were ‘likely to be underestimates’, the inquest heard.

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