Saturday, December 22, 2007

Slow menace

A woman who suffers a driving phobia is facing a ban after police caught her crawling along a motorway at 10mph. Stephanie Cole, 57, was spotted in her Malaysian-made Perodua Kenari with a sign in the back which read "I do not drive fast, please overtake", a court heard yesterday.

She was straddling the hard shoulder and the inside lane of the M32 in Bristol, England and, despite driving at walking pace, repeatedly jammed on her brakes. Officers pulled Mrs Cole over, and she told them: "I'm scared. I've no confidence on the motorway. Last time this happened a policeman drove me there."

Mrs Cole, of Fishponds, Bristol, pleaded guilty by letter to driving without reasonable consideration. In the letter read to North Avon Magistrates' Court Mrs Cole said her GP had been treating her for a "fear of driving" for the last three-and-a-half years.

She said: "I have suffered from a driving anxiety for some time and I have been receiving counselling for the problem. I apologise for my behaviour. I think a driver improvement course would help."

Magistrates' chairman Malcolm Richardson said: "We have no doubt that the bench should seriously consider banning Mrs Cole from driving for this offence. "We have heard from police officers that road users were put in danger by Mrs Cole. The fact that it is caused by a medical condition does not remove the need for her to be a capable driver on the road. We shall adjourn the case till January 4 when she can appear. I hope she doesn't drive here."

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