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Head on crash

THE UNUSUAL motoring laws on Shetland’s outer islands came to the fore at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday when an 18 year old Whalsay man was fined after he admitted careless driving.

John Paul McElhone, of Green Braes, Isbister, Whalsay, was going too fast along an unclassified road between Symbister and Isbister on 24 August when he drove straight into a car with three female occupants at Nuckro Water.

The court heard that McElhone was a learner driver, but had no passed driver with him as the law does not require it on Whalsay.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the day was clear and the road was dry when the women saw the young man driving straight towards them on a single track road with no passing places.

They stopped, imagining he would do the same, but were shocked when he drove straight at them.

“The simple fact of the matter is that he was going too fast, not maintaining proper observation, and he didn’t see them until the last second and there was a head on collision,” the fiscal said.

Fortunately, he added, there were only very minor injuries. “It could have been worse,” he said.

“This was a classic example of a young inexperienced and overconfident driver.”

When interviewed by the police McElhone had claimed the road was wet and he aquaplaned into the other car.

Defence agent Tommy Allan insisted the day had been misty and the road was wet.

He also said his client had driven over a blind summit where the road had two tracks, but the women had stopped where it returned to a single track.

“If they had kept going and gone on to the double track road this wouldn’t have happened, but that doesn’t excuse him,” he said.

Sheriff Lorna Drummond said she took the matter very seriously, but allowed McElhone to keep his licence so that he could carry on driving to work at the Symbister leisure centre where he is a trainee.

She fined him £420 and awarded him six penalty points, reduced due to his early plea.

Had he been a newly qualified driver those points would have forced him to resit the test he has yet to take.

Meanwhile the collision is being taken to the insurance ombudsman over the issue of there not being a passed driver in the vehicle at the time.