Thousands of people across the north-east get behind the wheel every day and use their vehicles for work, socialising and leisure. But with driving second nature to so many of us, it’s easy to become complacent and not think about the risks involved. In a new four-part series, the Evening Express examines careless and dangerous driving, drink-driving and speeding.
A man has spoken out to warn of the dangers of careless driving after his mum was knocked down and killed by a lorry in Aberdeen.
Ian Allan was working abroad in Azerbaijan when he received a call from his wife to tell him his mother had died after being struck by an HGV on King Street in Aberdeen.
Mary Allan, an 83-year-old great-grandmother, was killed instantly in the collision, which happened in September 2018, after the lorry driver blocked a pedestrian crossing near the roundabout on St Machar Drive.
And Ian, 60, of Bridge of Don, has now spoken about the impact the tragedy has had on him and his family to emphasise the importance of remaining alert and aware of your surroundings when driving – and the tragic consequences that can follow from lapses in concentration.
He said: “I work overseas. I believe when it happened my mother was at the TSB bank in Seaton. There were people in the bank who had come out and it just so happened my cousin worked there and realised it was her auntie that had been knocked down.
“She found out and spoke to the police. The police got in touch with my father who at the time was ill with cancer.
“I was overseas and had to get a flight home so it took me a couple of days to get home.
“It’s hard to take in. You’re walking about thinking ‘what’s happened?’.
“It was quite hard to take in. With my father’s illness, when I got the phone call I thought it was my father. My initial thought was that the cancer had taken hold and that was him gone, but no.
“It was my wife that phoned me and she said ‘you’d better sit down, it’s your mum’.
“The initial phone call I got was that she’d been killed in an accident. There was no other information at that time.
“It was more upset and shock to start with. With my father being ill it didn’t work in my head that it was my mother that had been knocked down in an accident. I thought ‘no that can’t be right, it must be my dad’.
“As it went on and we spoke to the police there was no real anger. The police were saying it was an accident, the guy wasn’t drunk.
“A wee bit of anger came in later on after the police investigation and a few things came to light we didn’t know about at the time.”
Gerald Clark was found guilty of causing death by careless driving following a trial last November, and handed 300 hours of unpaid work, a six-month curfew, and a four-year driving ban.
The court was told Clark “accepts his culpability” and “breaks down” when discussing the incident.
He failed to notice a red light, failed to check his mirrors and hit the pensioner as she was crossing the road in front of the lorry.
Clark, whose address was given in court papers as Taits Lane, Dundee, admitted he had not seen her when he was interviewed by police at the time.
Mary had three children and three grandchildren and had just become a great-grandmother the month before the accident.
Ian, who works in oil and gas, said: “She was independent, she did everything for my father. She was 83 and she still did line dancing.
“She loved her grandchildren, she loved her children, she did her line dancing, her bingo, she was a member of the Oldmachar British Legion and was an active member there.
“She just loved her family. We used to always say to her ‘what would you like for Christmas or your birthday?’ and she’d just say ‘happiness, everybody smiling makes my day’.
“It had quite a big impact. My sister took it quite hard but my younger brother, almost a year to the day since my mum died in the accident, he passed away from a heart attack.
“He lived on his own and I don’t know if he bottled things up or what, but it hit him really hard.
“I was working overseas and he’d try and look after my father and do things. My dad ended up in Roxburgh and it’s around a year since he passed away.
“It’s been quite a traumatic couple of years.”
Asked if he had any words or warning or advice to give drivers, Ian said: “Always be aware of your surroundings. We’ve all got mirrors and probably nobody uses all the mirrors.
“The lorry driver in the court case hadn’t checked his mirrors properly.
“Just be aware of your surroundings, you’re approaching pelican crossings, you’re approaching roundabouts.
“A lot of people use hands-free but even with that, your mind starts wandering elsewhere because you’re on the phone to someone.
“With drink-driving you know you’re doing it, you know you’re going in a motor and you shouldn’t, but with careless driving it’s just that lapse in concentration or somebody’s cut you up or you start getting angry towards another motorist or something that’s happened.
“Being behind the wheel of a vehicle a huge responsibility. The big lorries, the buses, even a car, it does a lot of damage.”