Courier 'careful' driver

Last updated 14:51 01/02/2013

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A distraction or falling into a micro-sleep are the likely explanations for a courier driver who crashed near Lawrence last year.

Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar, who released his formal findings this week, says the cause of Gavin George Anderson, 66, of Dunedin, death on May 15 was a transection of the aorta.

The findings say Mr Anderson was a careful, considerate and responsible contract courier driver.

He was driving a Toyota Hiace van under contract to New Zealand Couriers west from Waitahuna towards Lawrence, and while negotiating a left-hand bend the van crossed the road and collided with a power pole.

Mr Anderson died at the scene

He was transporting six, 20 litre containers of methylated spirits.

While Mr Anderson did not work on May 13 he did go to the courier depot for two hours on May 14, and this could have put him in breach of his rest period obligations. The Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit reviewed the service operation of New Zealand Couriers Ltd and found deficiencies with its compliance with ''work time'' rule.

It was issued with an improvement notice after the unit found the courier company failed to adhere to its internal control and to monitor the operations of Mr Anderson.

''I find it unlikely that Gavin Anderson was distracted by filling out his notebook, fiddling with a CD or using his cellphone. The more likely possibility is that due to the early hour of the morning Gavin Anderson merely lapsed into a micro-sleep. There is no significant evidence upon which I can base any such hypothesis apart from expressing my preference as to cause,'' Mr Crerar says.

While an autopsy report showed Mr Anderson had a high blood alcohol concentration, Mr Crerar said he was satisfied that Mr Anderson was not affected by alcohol the time he was driving, and that the probably cause of the high level was the absorption of ethanol through the skin, after he was drenched in methylated spirits that came from containers ruptured in the crash.

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