A truck driver narrowly avoided serious injury after nodding off behind the wheel of her truck, ploughing through the central reservation of the M5.
Sarah-Louise Murray from County Armagh was driving through Somerset having left Scotland the evening before.
Ms Murray lost control of her truck at 7.12am on March 13 having spent more than ten hours behind the wheel.
Shocking dashcam footage from a HGV following Murray shows how her lorry drifts to the left onto the hard shoulder before clipping the bank and slewing wildly to the right.
The truck swerves in front of a car with the dashcam and crashes through the central reservation as Murray’s trailer topples over sideways and slides onto the north bound carriageway.
The dashcam shows a van moments down the road which narrowly avoids crashing into the out-of-control truck. Luckily, no other vehicles were involved in the incident.
Sarah-Louise Murray was driving southbound along the M5 near Taunton in Somerset in a HGV having left Cairnryan in Dumfries the night before
Murray, 24, fell asleep a the wheel before clipping the verge at the edge of the hard shoulder
Murray’s truck swerved wildly in front of a car while heading towards the central reservation
Emergency services were forced to close the motorway between Wellington and Taunton for much of the day while her stricken truck was removed.
Amazingly, Murray escaped the dramatic crash suffering only minor injuries.
The 24-year-old truck driver pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Taunton Crown Court.
She was told that the incident could have led to ‘a substantial loss of life’.
The court heard Murray was driving southbound from Scotland.
A witness told the court the truck had weaved left and right several times before it crashed.
The court heard Murray tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
According to Gloucester Live, police examining the truck’s tachograph, a device which measures the amount of time a driver has been behind the wheel, discovered the driver’s card had been removed.
Police discovered Murray had a rest period of eight hours and 53 minutes – which is less than the required minimum of nine hours.
The court heard Murray had removed her driver card from the truck’s tachograph has she had been behind the wheel for too long and wanted to reach the next service station which had better facilities for female drivers before stopping
Murray’s truck ended up lying on its side across the central reservation and the northbound carriageway. Luckily no other vehicles were involved in the incident. She escaped with minor injuries although she does have a permanent scar on her forehead
The police also found Murray had been driving 36 minutes longer than the maximum 10 hours.
Prosecutor Harry Ahuja told the court: ‘It appeared the driver’s card had been removed from the lorry at 6.47am. It must have been done deliberately by the driver. The vehicle unit shows it was driven at 6.50am to 7.15am without the card inserted.
‘The prosecution view is that we strongly suspect this accident was caused by driver fatigue and potentially Murray falling asleep at the wheel.’
Defence solicitor Alun Williams said Murray, who was 23 at the time, had no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
He said: ‘There could have been catastrophic consequences and it was remarkable good fortune nobody was killed in the incident.’
He told the court that Murray was 30 minutes from Taunton Deane Services. She had taken several breaks during her drive from Cairnryan port to the South West of England.
Mr Williams said many of the service stations before Taunton were ‘less than salubrious for female drivers’.
Judge James Townsend said he would not jail Murray as she was heavily pregnant and pleaded guilty as early as possible.
The court heard Murray had studied law and Queen’s University in Belfast and was now working in customs.
Judge Townsend told Murray: ‘I take into account your good character and you are hard working. No doubt the reason you got into this situation is that you were trying to help the family business. I have every confidence you won’t get into trouble again.’
He jailed Murray, of Killylea, Armagh for eight months, suspending the sentence for 18 months.
She was also banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to sit and extended test.