Driver fined after falling asleep at motorway service station

A driver has been fined after falling asleep in a motorway services car park in the middle of the night.

Chris Allen, 29, said he was following road safety advice by pulling over to have a nap because he felt too sleepy to be behind the wheel, in April last year.

He had stopped for a coffee rest during his five hour drive from Devon to Grantham, Lincolnshire, to visit his mum Angela, 62, who had been rushed to hospital.

But instead of taking a short snooze he ended up accidentally sleeping from 1.30am to 8am.

The car park had a two hour limit and Chris overstayed his visit by four-and-a-half hours.

Chris said he didn’t realise he needed to pay at the Leicester Forest East services and continued his journey.

Three months later he received a £100 fine but the delivery driver refused to pay it ‘out of principle’, insisting he’d done the sensible thing by pulling over to avoid a potential accident.

Chris was then summoned to Lincoln County Court by car park management company ParkingEye on May 17, where a judge doubled his fine.

He said: ‘I don’t think I should pay a £200 fine for doing what any responsible driver should do, which is stop when they’re tired.

‘That’s what is recommended on the motorway with all these signs, but it’s a load of rubbish…

‘The whole attitude is appalling. I said I could have carried on, but then you don’t know what’s going to happen.

‘In future I will strongly advise people not to take a break when tired.’

Chris said he will now have to pay the increased fine.

Road safety charity Brake said that ‘driving tired can have devastating consequences.’

A spokesman said: ‘We advise all drivers to take a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours.

‘If you feel tired, you should pull over somewhere safe and have a nap.

‘However, there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep – this is the only way to be sure of staying safe.’

Simon Williams, of the RAC, said: ‘While we naturally sympathise with Mr Allen’s nasty surprise, the practice of charging for long-stay parking at motorway services has been in force for some time in order to prevent people taking advantage of the otherwise free parking.

‘That said, Mr Allen, who is no doubt still smarting from the experience, definitely did the right thing by resting instead of continuing to drive while tired and therefore risking being involved in a collision.’

A ParkingEye spokesman said Chris had refused both the offer to settle the matter without going to court, and an option to appeal the charge using the company’s internal services, or via the independent body POPLA.

He added: ‘Indeed, the motorist did not respond to any of our letters prior to legal proceedings and it was only at the court hearing that he first brought his circumstances to our attention.’

The spokesman said all drivers can park for free for two hours or pay for long-term parking, adding: ‘In this case, the motorist stayed in the car park for over six hours without paying for parking.

‘We would also highlight that parking can be paid for retrospectively at any time prior to exiting the car park via a number of different payment methods.’

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