A DRIVER crashed head-on into another car after becoming distracted by a spider, a court heard.
David Lee claimed the eight-legged insect dropped down the windscreen in front of him.
When he tried to knock the spider away with his hand, it dropped on to his lap.
He took his eyes off the A705 road in Blackburn, West Lothian, for a few seconds as he tried desperately to brush it off.
But Livingston Sheriff Court heard that the “momentary distraction” was enough to allow his Volkswagen Golf to drift across the white line into the path of an oncoming car.
He smashed head-on into the other vehicle, leaving it hanging at the edge of a 20ft drop on a bridge over the River Almond.
Lee, 38, and the married couple in the other car all suffered serious injuries as a result of the crash.
Alisdair Macleod, prosecuting, said a police officer on his way to work came upon the crash scene and found the accused lying in the recovery position on the road.
The married couple, Mr and Mrs Clarkson, had to be freed from the wreckage of their car by the fire service and paramedics.
Mr Clarkson had a seatbelt injury to his upper body and his wife suffered an injury to her lower back, which meant she had to be transported to hospital in a body brace.
The accused suffered an injury to his upper body from the seat belt and also a lower back injury.
When police asked Lee if he had any recollection of the accident he told them: “A spider came down the windscreen and I went to flick it away.”
Lee, of Elizabeth Gardens, Stoneyburn, pleaded guilty yesterday to careless driving. Ronnie Simpson, defending, revealed his client – whose job involves travelling to oil refineries across Scotland to check pipes for corrosion and safety – already had six points on his driving licence for speeding.
He said: “This was a momentary lapse of attention. On his way to work he became aware of a spider coming down in front of him on the driver’s side of the windscreen.
“He attempted to remove the spider which fell into his lap and he said he had to put his head down and attempt to flick the spider away from his lap.
“At that point when he looked up he was unable to avoid a collision with the vehicle driven by Mr Clarkson.
“The insurance companies have settled and Mr Lee has been very apologetic for having caused the incident.”
Sheriff Martin Edington fined Lee £340 and added five penalty points to his licence.
He said: “You need to be aware that even a momentary lapse of attention can have very serious consequences and I’m not convinced this was momentary.
“The complainers saw you coming slowly across the white lines and could go nowhere themselves to avoid this collision.
“I consider this at the lower end of the scale so I’m not going to impose any discretionary disqualification. You will therefore keep your driving licence by the skin of your teeth but you’re going to have to be very careful in future.”