Choking … You Are Negligent

Death before damage?  If you find yourself choking on a sweet, suffer such a self-inflicted attack whilst driving, you are to override your body’s natural reaction and first bring your vehicle to a safe stop … ideally, before the lack of oxygen causes you to collapse … or worse.

According to Highways England’s lawyers, Knights Plc.:

  • ‘The driver should have pulled over when he started coughing, unless it is your argument that your principal’s insured coughed once and immediately lost consciousness. Not an argument that we would think will hold any weight without expert medical evidence, something we otherwise look forward to receiving.
  • He should have pulled over before he began to ‘eat’, just as he would to sleep or use the facilities.’

It will be noted that Highways England considers eating a sweet akin to having kip or a gypsy’s-kiss when driving on a motorway!  Whilst it has been known for driver’s not to stop at a service station and ‘point Percy at the porcelain’ but to syphon-the-python into any handy receptacle or engage a shewee, comparing sweet sucking and sleeping at 70mph demonstrates the unrealistic, detached consideration of lawyers and the Authority.

Sweet suck and you are negligent, it being explained, it is not a defence to negligence a driver has seen others do it before him to no ill consequence.  Nor is it a defence for a driver to claim they were too busy to be safe i.e. if you want to enjoy the effects of a candy – pull over when safe to do so.

Lawyers consider that a driver should have ensured they were ‘well-nourished’ and ‘hydrated’ before they start their journey and not along the way,  that it is inexcusable to put other road users at risk because they were ‘peckish’ … we all know that hard-boiled sweets are a well know source of nourishment, will rehydrate and address hunger …????

Possibly the lawyers are confusing a small pebble-sized confectionary with a more man (person) sized Yorkie* … ‘the world’s first openly sexist chocolate bar’**.  It appears even Nestlé was not alive to the risks of the choking posed by oral indulgence and failed to have reasonably foreseen the risks not just to the driver but to other road users by choosing to ignore the ‘obvious dangers’ – their video can be viewed here.

We raised the issue with Highways England claims department who were supportive of their lawyer’s stance. However, this is the Authority that adopts the attitude ‘if your vehicle fails an MoT in its history, regardless of subsequent pass(es), it is tainted for life as poorly maintained’ – read more here.


*We have assumed this was not meant to be taken literally but refers to any confectionary or other product to be taken orally.

**’Yorkie not for girls. The Yorkie bar is famous in the UK for its former tag line: “It’s not for girls.” Nestlé first launched the slogans “Don’t feed the birds,” “Not available in pink,” and “King size not queen size” in 2002, but the bar has always been targeted at men ever since its inception (source)

For many years, Yorkie bars were advertised with campaigns featuring trucks and truck drivers, and they have near-iconic status in the transport industry. To this day, a Yorkie bar is traditionally given as a congratulatory gift to candidates passing their HGV driving test (source)

Nestle Rowntree’s marketing director: “We are very clear that this is supposed to be fun. It’s a humorous campaign and not meant for strict interpretation. We are going to do this with a lightness of touch that throws down a challenge to women rather than alienating them.” (source).

To our knowledge, no one has ever sought to have the advert of a trucker eating whilst driving banned and no one has ever been convicted of careless (let alone reckless) driving, for negligent nibbling.

Further considerations.  When driving, do not:

  • use man-size tissues if you have a sneezing fit.
  • cook
  • dress
  • undress
  • dance
  • sing
  • drink … what do you think those cup-holders are for?
  • excercise
  • read – other than road signs
  • put on make-up … 😉

X06B790
112/009/SG1263