A LORRY driver has spoken of his frustration at almost losing his licence after a crash – as he feels his quick-thinking actions prevented a fatality or serious injuries.

Alex Clark, 27, was involved in the collision on the A303 in Buckland St Mary on December 10, 2022.

He was driving his 17-tonne Volvo articulated lorry when traffic suddenly stopped ahead.

Alex said: “There were four cars in front of me and someone ahead decided to turn off last minute, so the traffic stopped suddenly.

"I jumped on the brakes to stop and was sliding. I could see I was going to hit the cars in front of me so I decided to take evasive action and go into the eastbound lane, which was clear, so I could then go into the field at the side of the road.

“I ended up colliding with a pick-up truck which was coming the other way, and my lorry ended up in a hedge.

“Fortunately there were no serious injuries. The passenger in the pick-up truck had a fractured rib but that was it.”

Alex, who has been a lorry driver for eight years and had a clean licence prior to the incident, said he believes his decision to steer his lorry into the field likely saved lives.

“My tracker had me doing 46mph before I had to suddenly brake, and it’s a 50mph road,” he said. “I had my eyes on the road and was paying attention – the traffic just suddenly stopped.

“If I had hit the car in front of me, I would have concertinaed the cars in front and it could have been a fatal or at least caused life-changing injuries.”

However, six months later, he had a letter saying Avon and Somerset Police were prosecuting him for driving without due care and attention.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “The only evidence they had was from other drivers. They didn’t do any forensics on the lorry or scene.

“If I’d had dashcam footage I could have proved it wasn’t my fault.”

Alex says that he spoke to a serving road traffic officer and a retired policeman who both told him that “the best thing to do was to plead guilty and take the points and fine, as I had a clean licence.”

Worried he would lose his licence if he denied the offence and had to stand trial, he decided to plead guilty by post, in response to the letter, believing he would simply receive three or six points and a fine.

But he then received a letter from Bath Magistrates' Court ordering him to attend for sentencing on July 18.

He said: “When I got that letter telling me I’d be sentenced in court, I realised that I was at risk of losing my licence.”

Fortunately for Alex, his boss valued him so highly as a driver that he told him to find a barrister to represent him at the sentencing hearing – and that he’d cover the cost.

Alex said: “My boss was so supportive – I was really lucky. A friend of mine recommended Protect Your Licence because they’d helped him, so I contacted them and they represented me.

“My barrister, Kevin Marland, was brilliant. He explained to the magistrates what had happened so well, and that I’d been trying to prevent a major crash by doing what I did.

“He told the court that my boss had paid for my defence, which helped as it showed the magistrates that I was a good driver. He told them that I’d never had a crash before in eight years as a lorry driver, and what losing my licence would mean.”

Because of this, Alex kept his licence. The magistrates gave him nine points on his licence, a fine of £575 with a £220 surcharge, and ordered him to pay £110 costs.

“If it wasn’t for Kevin, I 100 per cent would have lost my licence,” Alex said. “If I’d lost my licence, I obviously would have lost my job, so I was so relieved.”

Alex added: “Kevin told me from the start that I shouldn’t have pleaded guilty but, as I’d already pleaded guilty by post, all he could do was try to save my licence – and he did just that.”

“My boss has been so good to me”, he added. “Most companies won’t keep on a driver with more than six points on their licence because of the insurance costs, but I’m still driving for him.

“It was frustrating that I was given the points and fined so much when the accident wasn’t my fault. Looking back now, I realise that I never should have pleaded guilty – but at the time I was so stressed by the letter from the police and I just wanted to get the whole thing over and done with.”

*Kevin Marland established Protect Your Licence in 2011. He was inspired to set up the business after seeing so many drivers let down by a poor defence in court.

Kevin, who has been a barrister since 1998, said: “I used to sit at the back of court waiting for my turn and watching cases. I remember watching a solicitor representing this poor chap in court for a driving offence and the solicitor was atrocious, and I thought ‘this is awful, I should do something about this’.”

Kevin said that, on average, solicitors charge around £700 to represent someone in court whereas a barrister will charge £1,500, “which makes getting a good defence unaffordable for many people”.

So he set up Protect Your Licence, which offers a monthly subscription service. Members subscribe to a newsletter with helpful information on driving for as little as £6, and one of the benefits of that subscription is legal support should it be needed.

Kevin said: “We have helped thousands of drivers over the years. We have made a big difference to a lot of people who would have lost their licence otherwise.

“This is not about making money out of defending dangerous drivers – it’s about providing justice for people like Alex who deserve to keep their licence.”