Truck driver who crashed into M5 gantry causing 14-hour closure convicted of dangerous driving

A tipper truck driver has been found guilty of dangerous driving after crashing with an overhead gantry on the M5. The collision, which took place on March 2 last year, resulted in a sound "like an explosion" ringing out across the motorway. The crash caused the M5 to be shut near Bristol for approximately 14 hours due to fears that the gantry would topple over.

Images from the scene show the 32-tonne vehicle trapped between the ground and the gantry. Anthony Baker, 48 and from Downend, denied the charge but was subsequently found guilty by jurors after a two-day hearing at Bristol Crown Court. He was granted bail and his sentencing is set for Friday, August 2.

During the trial, it emerged that Baker, of Garnett Place, drove the lorry from a quarry in Flax Bourton to a building site at Cribbs Causeway.He deposited the load at the site before setting off again. Jurors were shown CCTV footage and dashcam videos which recorded the lorry being manoeuvred along Highwood Lane and the southbound M5 prior to the collision, with the tipper truck bed elevated. The control room began receiving calls from the public around 8:20am and minutes later, the lorry clashed with an overhead gantry heading southbound.

The lorry's bed became dislodged from the main part of the vehicle, causing one of the matrix signs to plummet onto the motorway. Luckily, no injuries were reported. Brad Hardwidge, who overheard the collision, said: "I heard it from the other end of our site, it sounded like a distant explosion.

It's adjacent to our off-road buggy tracks at Max Events." An anonymous witness saw the aftermath of the incident while he was on his morning dog walk in a neighbouring field. He said that something had "gone drastically wrong" for the vehicle to have ended up where it did, adding his relief that no one was hurt.

The bed of a tipper truck wedged between the overhead gantry and the road surface of the M5 yesterday (March 2)

The M5 was fully closed for almost 14 hours to make sure the structure was safe.

It was then closed again the following weekend as the gantry was fully removed. Baker told police during an interview he did not usually check the lorry bed had lowered after making a delivery but in hindsight stated he should have. He added he did not see any other motorists signal to him to pull over and he was unaware of any mechanical malfunction that would have caused the issue.

PC Ian Hudson, of the roads policing unit, said: "The consequences of this collision could have been catastrophic had the matrix sign hit a vehicle travelling at 70mph or the gantry collapsed onto a live motorway.

"Anthony Baker's failure to perform even a basic check that the lorry bed had been lowered is inexplicable and put other road users in danger.

Road safety is something everyone needs to have at the forefront of their minds when they get behind the wheel of any vehicle."


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