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Family of killed motorist campaign for rest breaks.

Byline: By MIKE JONES Western Mail

The family of a motorist killed by a Welsh lorry driver who fell asleep at the wheel have launched a road safety campaign in a bid to prevent similar tragedies.

Civil engineer John Connick, a 51-year-old father-of-three, was killed instantly last August when the driver of a lorry he was overtaking fell asleep at the wheel on the M5.

Lorry driver William Lanham, from Pembrokeshire, had driven to Ireland and back without stopping for rest breaks required by law.

When he nodded off in his cab on the motorway in South Gloucestershire his 40-tonne juggernaut went out of control and overturned on to Mr Connick's small Daewoo car. The Daewoo was crushed flat and then both lorry and car burst into flames.

Lanham, 46, of Quay Rd, Goodwick, was jailed for three years and banned from driving for 10 years after he admitted causing Mr Connick's death by dangerous driving.

Now Mr Connick's widow Mary, of High View Gardens, Exmouth, Devon, and her 30-year-old daughter Emma Flint are campaigning for drivers to take proper rest breaks on all long journeys.

Ms Flint, the charity's administrator, said 'We live in a world where there is too much emphasis on pushing yourself to the limit.

'Work, holidays and family pressures often cause people to drive for longer hours than they would like.

'It is wonderful that people are now starting to wake up to the fact that driving when you are sleep-deprived is as irresponsible as drink-driving.

'We are making a plea to drivers, especially those heading on holiday at this time of year, to be sure they are well rested.

'We owe it to our kids to get them back home safely.

'The man who killed my father wasn't a monster who set out to kill someone. He was just an ordinary person like you and me who thought he would be all right to drive for a couple more hours.'

At the time of the crash which killed Mr Connick, he was driving a hired Daewoo to Bristol Airport to catch a plane to Dublin where he was to have signed a contract for a new job.

It was from Dublin that Lanham had just driven in a lorry loaded with Irish butter and dairy products destined for the Asda hypermarket in Bristol.

Statistics show that a fifth of motorway accidents are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel and that one in 10 crashes on all roads are linked to driver fatigue.

Driving between midnight and 6am or between 2pm and 4pm is more risky than at any other time because the human body clock naturally slows down, making people more prone to fall asleep.

Men under 30 are the most likely to fall asleep at the wheel in the early hours of the morning because they are more likely to drive when they feel tired.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 3, 2004
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