Tipper truck driver guilty of dangerous driving over M5 gantry crash

A TIPPER truck driver from Downend who crashed into an overhead gantry on the M5 has been convicted of dangerous driving.

The incident, on March 2 last year, led to the motorway being closed for about 14 hours near Cribbs Causeway due to concerns the gantry could collapse.

Anthony Baker had denied the charge but was convicted by a jury after a two-day trial at Bristol Crown Court today.

Avon & Somerset police said Baker, aged 48, drove the 32-tonne lorry from a quarry in Flax Bourton to a construction site at Cribbs Causeway and deposited the load before setting off again.

The jury viewed CCTV and dashcam clips showing the lorry being driven with the truck bed raised along Highwood Lane and the southbound M5 before the collision.

A police spokesperson said other motorists started calling them at about 8.20am. Minutes later, the truck bed hit an overhead gantry.

It detached from the rest of the lorry and one of the traffic matrix signs fell onto the motorway. Although no-one was injured, the M5 had to be shut in both directions to ensure the gantry, which spanned both carriageways, was safe.

The motorway was shut again on the following weekend and the damaged structure was removed.

Driver did not check tipper had lowered

Police said that in an interview Baker, of Garnett Place, told officers he did not usually check the lorry bed had lowered after making a delivery “but in hindsight stated he should have”.

The spokesperson said Baker told officers he did not see any other motorists signal to him to pull over and he was unaware of any mechanical malfunction that would have caused the issue.

After the verdict Baker was released on bail. He will be sentenced on August 2.

PC Ian Hudson, of the roads policing unit, said: “The consequences of this collision could have been catastrophic had the matrix sign hit a vehicle travelling at 70mph or the gantry collapsed onto a live motorway.

“Anthony Baker’s failure to perform even a basic check that the lorry bed had been lowered is inexplicable, and put other road users in danger.

“Road safety is something everyone needs to have at the forefront of their minds when they get behind the wheel of any vehicle.”

Pictured top: The detached tipper bed after the collision on the M5. Picture from Avon & Somerset police