An 82-year-old man has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence after causing a collision with a car on the hard shoulder of the M4 last year.

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Francis Nailor, 82, of Small Lane, Stapleton, Bristol, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of a road traffic collision at Swindon Magistrates’ Court at a previous hearing.

He was sentenced today (04/05) to six months in jail, suspended for 12 months, at Swindon Crown Court, and ordered to pay costs.

On 21 March last year, shortly after 7pm, we received several reports that a 44 tonne HGV articulated lorry was travelling eastbound on the M4 past Leigh Delamere Service station on the hard shoulder.

Despite attempts to alert Nailor by other drivers, the lorry struck a Hyundai which had suffered a flat tyre between junction 17 and 16 and stopped on the hard shoulder with the hazard lights on and the driver and the passengers out of the vehicle.

Fortunately, nobody was injured as the Hyundai was shunted into a ditch and despite slowing, Nailor proceeded to drive off.

Officers made contact with the lorry at junction 15 as Nailor continued along the hard shoulder at around 50mph.

Nailor only came to a stop after travelling approximately 25 miles on the hard shoulder and was arrested and taken to Gablecross Police Station while the lorry was recovered.

PC Alan King of the Roads Policing Unit said: “This was an incredibly dangerous incident, in the dark, and it is only the good will of those members of public who put themselves at risk that there were no serious injuries or fatalities as a result of this.

“If they had not driven ahead to warn the occupants of the Hyundai, we would have had a far more tragic incident on our hands.

“Driving on the hard shoulder, unless instructed to do so by traffic police officers of the Highways Agency or as part of roadworks, is illegal and this incident just highlights the dangers.

“Drivers should only stop on the hard shoulder in an emergency and we’d always ask drivers to leave the vehicle on the left-hand side and to wait in a safe place behind a barrier or on an embankment away from the vehicle.”