Highway blamed for crash

A PROFESSIONAL truck driver with 20 years experience and Murwillumbah mother has successfully appealed her conviction for negligent driving.

Last January Maria Falzon crashed her Triton ute on the Pacific Highway at the notorious Sextons Hill near South Tweed Heads.

Considering herself to be a careful driver Mrs Falzon blamed the poor state of the national highway for causing her crash - not as a result of any negligence by herself.

Despite pleading not guilty to the charge she was convicted and fined $200 by a Tweed Heads Local Court magistrate earlier this year. Determined to prove her innocence she and defence lawyer Cameron Bell consulted a road expert and took her appeal to Lismore District Court for hearing before Judge James Black yesterday.

In a legal defence case costing her thousands of dollars, Mrs Falzon got her victory when Judge Black found in her favour that her driving had not been to blame and upheld her appeal, setting aside the magistrate's findings.

His decision came after Mrs Falzon's legal team hired John Jamieson from Jamieson Foley Consulting Forensic Engineers in Sydney to prepare a detailed investigative report about the condition of the highway where she crashed.

In evidence Mrs Falzon said she was driving at around 65km/h in the 80 zone and simply 'tapped' her foot on the brake of her four-wheel drive when it lost control and began fishtailing.

Mr Jamieson's evidence and documented report before the court found the highway had deteriorated to an unsafe level, with the section where the crash very slippery, and resealed just months later.

Judge Black said the report and data made it very clear the surface of the road did not come within the minimum requirements in affording an appropriate surface on which to brake - especially in the wet.

Following the Lismore District Court decision Mrs Falzon said she wanted to prove the accident was not the result of her driving -“I almost killed my son in this accident and I wasn't doing anything wrong”.

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