A COACH driver has said he guided his vehicle on to a main A66 roundabout in darkness because it was the “safest option”.
Darryle Warren, 52, denies a charge alleging dangerous driving, and is on trial at Carlisle Crown Court.
Passengers raised concerns after the bus was seen “drifting” between lanes on the M6 northbound late on October 7, 2017. Warren was returning a group of people to West Cumbria on a Reays coach after they had watched a rugby league Grand Final in Manchester.
On the A66 westbound, the coach crashed on to the Crosthwaite roundabout island near Keswick just after 11-20pm.
Interviewed after the collision, Warren told police he misjudged his approach to the roundabout, entering it “too sharp and too quick”. “I’m totally at fault for this,” he said. “I’m disgusted with myself. It’s a mistake I will never make again.”
Giving evidence this afternoon (THURS), Warren denied the prosecution’s claim he’d been showing “the signs of a man struggling to stay awake at the wheel”.
“I’ve driven longer and further,” he insisted. “I wasn’t tired.”
Warren admitted his coach drifted on the M6 northbound, saying: “It was quite windy and wet. Controlling the vehicle was quite difficult.”
Of the A66 incident, Warren, of Scotland Road, Carnforth, told jurors: “When I realised the roundabout was there and I wasn’t going to be able to negotiate safely I quickly assessed the situation, and thought I need to put this coach somewhere safe.
“The safest option being where I ended up on the roundabout.
“It was the safest option – the only place I can put that vehicle safely and not have a lot of casualties.”
Warren – who admits careless driving – had woken at 6am that day and driven 130 miles before starting his Reays shift.
Prosecutor Charles Brown suggested: “For whatever reason you ignored all the passenger concerns that were expressed to you about the manner of your driving.”
Warren – who denies his driving fell “far below” the standard expected of a reasonable and competent driver – replied: “Yes, sir.”
The trial continues.