A DRIVER had to swerve off the road to avoid a head-on smash when a woman heading towards him on a country lane stupidly leaned over to pick up something from the passenger footwell.
Despite his quick-thinking reaction, Rebecca Holland’s car still hit the back of his car as he veered out of her way, flipping it onto its side and trapping one of his passengers.
Holland, 50, of Hill View Farm, Flecknoe, near Rugby, denied a charge of dangerous driving following the incident in Flecknoe Road in July.
But on the day of her trial at Warwick Crown Court she pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of careless driving, and was fined £135 and ordered to pay £670 costs.
Prosecutor Gerry Bermingham said that at around 1.30 in the afternoon on July 14, a man was driving along the narrow lane towards Flecknoe with two passengers in his car.
“As he was driving up a hill with a blind spot at the top, Holland was heading up the hill in the opposite direction in her Ford Fiesta.
“As she approached the blind spot at the top of the hill, some posters she had in her vehicle fell off the seat to the floor.
“She very stupidly leaned over to pick them up, and took her eyes off the road while still travelling, so you had two cars approaching each-other on a narrow road.
“(The male driver), to his credit, spotted what was happening ahead of him and braked hard and pulled hard to his left onto the grass verge to avoid a head-on collision.
“Goodness knows what would have happened if he hadn’t,” commented Mr Bermingham.
As it was, Holland’s car hit the rear offside of his car as it left the road, flipping it onto its side and leaving one of his passengers trapped inside by the seatbelt as he and the other passenger managed to crawl out.
Fortunately, although they suffered some injuries, they were not serious.
When the police arrived, Holland said she had been driving down the hill to put up a poster at a fishing lake when it was blown off the seat, so she had picked it up, ‘and then bang.’
Mr Bermingham remarked: “It was a stupid thing to do, which fortunately did not have tragic results.”
Rembert de Mello, defending, said Holland lives 250 yards from the site of the accident and, having turned onto the road had been driving at about 30mph.
“The wind blew the paper into the footwell, and she bent down to pick it up with her left hand, keeping her right hand on the steering wheel. That was a stupid thing to do.
“Fortunately she suffered less than the two gentlemen. The back of her head struck the sat-nav container, and she bled from the back of her head.”
Mr de Mello said Holland, who had a clean licence, lived with her parents, and was the full-time carer for her mother who suffers from epilepsy and cannot walk.
Given where they live, she needs to be able to drive to collect prescriptions, do the shopping and take her mother to the doctor’s, he added.
Sentencing Holland and endorsing her licence with eight points, but not banning her, Recorder Marc Brown told her: “You very stupidly chose to lean down into the footwell.
“That caused you to lose sight of the road and the car to veer onto the other side of the carriageway and into the path of a car coming the opposite way.
“Luckily (the other driver) was paying attention and saw you coming and sought to avoid a collision by veering onto the kerb, but your car hit the back end of his vehicle, causing it to end up on its side.”