A delivery driver who followed a “punishing” work regime had been working for 28 hours before he died in a crash.
Hetal Lallubhai Patel was driving south on the A702 in Lanarkshire before crossing lanes and crashing into an electricity pole and tree in the village of Lamington.
A Fatal Accident Inquiry found Mr Patel had made no attempt to negotiate a left-turn bend in his rented Mercedes van at around 8.34am on Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
A tracking device in the vehicle revealed the 46-year-old’s driving record for the previous month.
Sheriff Nikola Stewart found: “The Ctrack data confirms that the deceased had undertaken a punishing regime of working extremely long hours without significant breaks in the form of rest periods or days off and had been so working for a period of at least 28 hours immediately prior to the accident.”
Because Mr Patel was self-employed, the statutory scheme for professional drivers that limits the hours they drive, ensures they take regular breaks, limits their working days and insists upon days off did not apply to him.
The inquiry could not determine why the courier had chosen not to follow safe driving practices, including not wearing a seat belt.
Sheriff Stewart said: “The existence or otherwise of any pressure which may have been felt by him to maximise his hours of work to the prejudice of his ability to drive safely and fully refreshed have not been and cannot be explored in the absence of available testimony.”
In the month before the crash, Mr Patel drove more than 14 hours a day on 14 occasions, and drove for over ten hours on another six occasions.
Police collision investigators found the delivery driver had been travelling at around 41mph when he made not attempt to break or steer the vehicle as it approached the bend.
His van crossed the double white centre lines into the opposite lane, all four wheels mounted the kerb and it collided with the electricity pole before crashing into a mature tree which burst through into the passenger compartment.
Mr Patel was projected forward and collided with the windscreen. He suffered severe head injuries including fracturing his skull.
Emergency services, including a trauma specialist from the air ambulance unit arrived on the scene and removed Mr Patel from the van. Resuscitation was attempted and his breathing was laboured but at 10.22am he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
The police investigation found that if he had been wearing his seatbelt, “he may have survived [the crash]”.