Woman blames driver-assist technology for 'crashing her car'

Diane Bryan, 58, got a brand new Toyota RAV4 Excel through the motability scheme
Diane Bryan, 58, got a brand new Toyota RAV4 Excel through the motability scheme -Credit:No credit

A mother-of-four fined £800 insists that the driver-assist technology of her new car resulted in a crash in Somerset. Diane Bryan, 58, claims her brand new Toyota RAV4 Excel, which she got through the motability scheme just half a year before the collision, "took over" the steering wheel leading to the mishap.

Diane and her husband Stan Bryan, aged 56, were travelling from Southampton to Glastonbury on December 17, 2022, when they were involved in the crash. Diane recounts transitioning from a 60mph zone into a 40mph zone at the time of the incident.

She described how the car continued straight at a bend despite her attempts to steer, as it was seemingly yanked from her grasp "by the car" before beginning to spin. She further claims that the vehicle's brakes and pre-collision system failed to activate, the airbags did not deploy, and even the emergency call feature, which is designed to alert emergency services in case of an accident, did not.

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Dashcam footage reveals the car drifting onto the other side of the road, resulting in a clash with two oncoming vehicles. Miraculously, the drivers of the two opposing cars escaped unscathed.

In court, Diane was found guilty of driving without due care and attention, received six points on her licence, and was slapped with an £800 fine. Diane is adamant that when she attempted to navigate a left turn, the steering wheel didn't respond and then the 'white line' technology failed to correct her trajectory when she crossed the centre line. Avon and Somerset Police though says she did not mention any defects through the course of the interview.

The Toyota RAV4 includes features such as a Pre-Collision System designed to mitigate collisions by activating the brakes if the driver fails to. Other features include Lane Trace Assist which keeps the car in the centre of the lane using steering assist and an emergency call system to activate automatically in the event of an accident, reports Bristol Live.

After her court case, Diane, a Cambridge Weight Plan consultant from Barnsley, South Yorks. , expressed her dismay: "I'm a criminal for the first time in my life. I have a criminal record for something outside of my control."

She shared her fear of driving, saying: "I'm scared of driving and am nervous on the roads - I don't drive on roads I don't know. The car was designed that at no point should it ever be able to cross a white line, but it went straight over. If you get close to a line the steering wheel vibrates - if you ignore the vibration it recenters itself in the road. But there was no vibration in the steering wheel and it didn't recenter itself.

"I went to court and three magistrates totally disbelieved what my husband and I said - I got charged with driving without due care and attention. I was offered a Safe and Considerate Driving Course instead of points and a fine which I accepted, but they couldn't provide an adapted vehicle.

"Because I not longer had my vehicle I couldn't do it - but had I been able-bodied, I could have done the course. Instead I was given six points on my license for the first time in over 30 years of driving."

Adding to the complexity of the situation, Diane alleges that the car was taken by the police but was erroneously scrapped before any inspection could take place. She has sustained a spinal cord lesion in her neck, resulting in paralysis down her right side.

Despite these challenges, Diane mentions that while awaiting trial, she underwent a comprehensive DVLA medical assessment and successfully had her driving licence renewed without any restrictions. However, at Barnsley Magistrates' Court on February 22, she faced charges of driving without due care and attention.

Following a one-day trial, she was convicted and sentenced. Now, with a new car, Diane admits she is finding it difficult to return to driving and reconcile with the criminal charges against her.

"I'm really struggling to accept being a criminal," Diane expressed, "I got a fine of £800 - my only income is PIP. I've got a new car, but I'm scared to have driver assist switched on."

Toyota was asked for their input but stated that as they had not been able to inspect the vehicle, they were unable to comment at this time. A representative from Avon and Somerset Police provided details of the incident: "A vehicle was collected by a recovery company following a three-vehicle collision on Sunday 17 December 2022 on the A361 in Dean, Shepton Mallet.

"Thankfully, no-one was seriously injured in the collision. As this was a low-level road traffic collision, a vehicle would not be recovered for examination under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

"The company was contacted two days later by the driver on 19 December who asked where the vehicle was so she could inform her insurance company. On 29 December, the vehicle was collected by an individual acting on behalf of the insurance company, as is standard procedure.

"The driver was spoken to under caution by officers where, when asked, she has noted no recent issues with her vehicle. She did not mention any defects through the course of the interview.

"The individual has now been found guilty of driving without due care and attention and would have had an opportunity for this to be raised as part of their defence."