Lorry driver died after HGV was struck by 'gust of wind' during Storm Malik

Bogdan-George Popa was driving to Cleland to make a delivery of flat pack furniture during a yellow weather warning when he lost control of his vehicle.

Lorry driver died after HGV was struck by ‘gust of wind’ during Storm Malik Supplied

A lorry driver died after his vehicle was struck by a gust of wind during Storm Malik in 2022.

Bogdan-George Popa was driving from West Lancashire to Cleland, near Motherwell, on January 29 to make a delivery of a “relatively light load” of flat pack furniture during a yellow weather warning before the crash.

The 32-year-old experienced HGV driver had just exited a banked grass verge area on the M74 when a strong gust of wind – estimated to be between 39 and 48 mph – struck the side of his lorry causing him to lose control of its direction.

A Fatal Accident Inquiry found that the wind caused Mr Popa’s lorry to roll onto the driver’s side and “continue to roll” before it crossed the central reservation and and made its way onto the opposing southbound carriageway while on its side.

It then collided head-on with a Land Rover Discovery.

Various people, including a fellow lorry driver, attempted to help Mr Popa who had suffered significant injuries but he was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

There was no evidence that Mr Popa was driving at excessive speed.

A lorry driver who was travelling behind the HGV at the time, told the inquiry he saw the wind affecting Mr Popa’s vehicle but that he was able to correct the steering on a couple of occasions before he eventually lost control.

Sheriff Adrian Cottam raised concerns about lorry drivers being sent out during weather warnings and whether Mr Popa had been given enough advice on what to do when travelling in exposed areas.

He outlined that, based on evidence given, there was a “clear tension” between drivers taking heed of weather warnings and training about the impact of wind and the desire fulfil their duties and deliver on time

He suggested that the company, XDP Limited, could have provided clearer information to drivers on the impact of stopping or postponing a journey due to high winds in respect of pay or rest days.

However it was said that the inquiry could not regulate the driver’s terms and conditions but the finding “should be taken as suggesting that no penalty for staying safe is best practice”.

He added that “no driver should be left wondering about docked pay or missing rest days when contemplating
safety” but that Mr Popa was aware of the weather and knew the impact it could have.

A health and safety consultant who gave an opinion on the evidence concluded that there should be discussions with HGV drivers facing adverse weather conditions, including consultation on the planned route and whether detours are necessary to avoid hazardous areas.

She suggested that staff check or receive weather forecasts throughout the route.

She added: “From reading the witness evidence, primarily the evidence of the driver from the HGV vehicle travelling behind, Mr Popa took reasonable care by slowing down to the conditions faced on the motorway.”

Sheriff Cottam concluded that “the company could have provided clearer information to drivers on the impact of stopping or postponing a journey due to high winds or other weather conditions in respect of pay or rest days.

“Mr Popa could have slowed his vehicle down to approximately 20 or 30 mph, through the area where cross wind warnings had been highlighted, thus potentially allowing him an opportunity to recover from the gust.

“Mr Popa could have stopped his journey at a safe place when he first felt that the impact of the wind was affecting the steering and control of his lorry.”

Prior to his death, Mr Popa had lived with his wife Lacramioara and their 12-year-old son in Liverpool for two years while working as a professional lorry driver travelling to and from Scotland.

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