Teacher warns of the dangers of tailgating and undertaking on the A1(M) after three-vehicle pile-up sees doctor convicted of dangerous driving
PUBLISHED: 18:10 14 August 2017 | UPDATED: 07:30 15 August 2017
A victim of a three-car motorway pile-up caused by dangerous driving has spoken out about the dangers of tailgating and undertaking on the A1(M).
Lisa Hobden was travelling from her home in Wheathampstead to work as a teacher at Barnwell School in Stevenage on September 27 last year, when she noticed a silver BMW pull up behind her.
The driver started flashing his lights and tailgating her.
A moment later he undertook her on the inside, pulled back in front of her and slammed on his brakes.
Ms Hobden reacted, slamming the breaks on her Volkswagen Polo – but a Vauxhall van smashed into the back of her, and a Mercedes piled into the back of that.
On Friday at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court, Dr James Watkiss, of Bathgate Road in south London, was convicted of dangerous driving and banned from the road for 56 days.
The 27-year-old doctor, who was on his way to work at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital at the time, denied the charge throughout the trial.
Independent witnesses to the incident took the BMW’s number plate and said the driver did not stop, but drove off at speed along the hard shoulder northwards.
Lisa, who has a 15-year-old son, said: “I had awful whiplash and my blood pressure went through the roof. I could have been killed. It’s a miracle it didn’t cause more serious injuries.
“The doctors checked my neck to make sure it wasn’t broken and monitored my blood pressure because it was 190/130.
“I was just in absolute shock because for a split second I thought: ‘Oh my God, I am going to die’.”
Lisa said the crash has massively affected her confidence behind the wheel.
“Up until that point I used to go to boot camp twice a week, but I haven’t been able to get back because of the whiplash,” she said.
“I went back to school the following day but I was very anxious and in a lot of pain.
“Even now when I’m travelling on the motorway I get anxious if it feels like a car is coming too close.
“Afterwards I was just very tearful.
“If the van driver behind me hadn’t seen what was going on and braked when he did, I could have been killed.”
The van driver was treated for shock at the Lister Hospital, with the Mercedes driver also receiving care for leg injuries.
Lisa now wants to spell out a telling message to drivers using the A1(M): “When you get on there every morning, you know it’s going to be crowded – but there’s no need to drive like that. You just have to accept that it’s going to take time.
“There’s absolutely no need for aggressive driving or tailgating.”
On Friday, Dr Watkiss was disqualified from driving for 56 days and ordered to pay a fine of £1,875, £620 costs and £170 victim surcharge.
Lisa added: “I would have liked to have seen a longer ban, but I’m just glad he’s been brought to justice.”