Officer warns drivers to give the road their full attention after teenage girl knocked down by distracted van driver
Main article content
Police are reminding drivers of the importance of keeping your eyes firmly on the road when driving after a school girl was knocked over by a van driver in Swindon.
At approximately 2.45pm on March 25, 2021, the victim, who was 11 at the time, was walking home from school when she was knocked over by a van as she crossed the road in Hyde Road.
Footage from inside the van showed the driver was eating a packet of crisps while also using his mobile phone at the time of the collision.
Fortunately, the victim did not suffer life changing injuries, but did require stitches for an eye injury, and was left badly bruised all over her body. She still suffers with headaches and struggles to concentrate almost a year after the collision.
A/Sgt Ben Greening said: “This collision could have been so easily avoided had the driver been giving the road his full attention. It was the end of the school day and there were lots of children making their way home so the area was busy. With lots of young people around, it goes without saying that drivers should be on high alert.
“Following the collision we obtained footage from inside the vehicle which showed the driver was clearly not concentrating – this falls well below the level of driving we would expect and I am glad that he has been given a two year disqualification.
“It is so fortunate that the young girl was not more seriously injured as a result of this collision, albeit she did require hospital treatment and it has impacted on her life.
“It shouldn’t take an incident like this for driver’s to be reminded of the dangers of using a mobile phone when driving, eating, or anything that takes your concentration away from the road. Eating a packet of crisps whilst driving may seem minor to some, but if your hands aren’t on the steering wheel, your ability to stop quickly should the need arise is greatly reduced.”
In a victim impact statement provided to the court, the school girl said: “I don’t remember much about the incident itself, I just remember waking up in hospital and my dad telling me I had been hit by a van. I am still feeling overwhelmed about the whole incident.
“I still get headaches when trying to focus on the television or mobile phone. This pain is like shooting pains and I normally go to sleep once I get this pain to try and help. When I try to sleep I keep thinking about the incident and then I struggle to get off to sleep.”
Her father added: “Of course it is every parent’s worst nightmare to hear that their child has been involved in a road collision whilst walking home from school, but it is particularly frustrating to hear that the collision could have been so easily avoided had the driver been giving the road his full attention.
“’I’d urge everyone to be mindful of their actions when behind the wheel of a car, especially when driving near to schools at the end of the school day. Just a split second distraction could have devastating consequences. I would also urge parents to revisit the importance of road safety around busy roads, especially at school leaving times. I would hate for anybody else to be in the same situation as us.”
James Groves, 25, of Haygarth Close, Cirencester, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and drug driving, and was sentenced at Swindon Magistrates Court on January 11 to an eight week prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also disqualified from driving for two years.