Tired Edinburgh taxi driver killed after horrific crash on A1 slip road in East Lothian

An Edinburgh cabbie killed in a head-on smash on the A1 headed down a slip road the wrong way because he was fatigued after a 13-hour shift, a sheriff has determined.

By Stephen Wilkie
Friday, 9th August 2019, 10:35 am
John Nisbet
John Nisbet

John Nisbet, 72, drove into oncoming traffic on the A1 near Wallyford, East Lothian, as he neared the end of a 13-hour shift in his black London taxi cab.

The pensioner, from Edinburgh, suffered fatal injuries when his London taxi collided with a Peugeot Boxer between the Old Craighall and Wallyford junctions in November, 2016.

He had taken the wrong slip road at a junction and drove into oncoming traffic, a Fatal Accident Inquiry at Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told.

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Following the probe, Sheriff Michael O'Grady QC in his written determination stated that Mr Nisbet had become disorientated because of tiredness.

The sheriff wrote: "Mr Nisbet had for many years worked as a taxi driver and, despite his age, continued to do so.

"On this particular evening he was working a long shift. Although he had a break that evening, going home for a meal, he was observed by his wife at that stage to be tired which, given his age and his working hours that day is unsurprising.

"Mr Nisbet drove his vehicle down what was in fact the off slip road on the motorway. In so doing he inevitably emerged from that slip road to find himself facing north on the southbound carriageway, that is to say, facing the wrong way towards oncoming traffic.

"It was in that context that the collision took place and in the circumstances such a collision was almost inevitable.

"Mr Nisbet was a hardworking and experienced driver and why such an incident should occur has inevitably to be a matter of inference.

"On the available evidence however police investigators have, in my view correctly, been forced to the conclusion that the deceased was suffering from fatigue and that his perception of the road layout and his judgement were thereby impaired; he simply made a mistake when he was tired."

Sheriff O'Grady stopped short of making any safety recommendations but highlighted the importance of drivers taking breaks when they are tired.

His determination continues: "The sole cause of the collision was driver fatigue; the danger of this is well-known to professional and non-professional drivers alike and indeed is regularly seen in admonitions on motorway signs, service stations and indeed, in many cases, even on computerised driver displays with in cars."

Following his death, Mr Nisbet's son Eddie paid tribute to him.

He said: "It goes without saying that as a family we are utterly heartbroken by my father's recent passing.

"The warmth, humour, generosity and compassion that John brought to the lives of his family and friends is truly immeasurable. His loss has left a void that will be impossible to fill.

"His doting wife, Gaye, will forever cherish their 32 years of marriage after falling in love at first sight. He was her hero, her best friend and ultimately her life - her heart will forever belong to him.

"A huge personality in golfing, taxi driving and snooker circles across the city, he left an indelible mark on a vast amount of people.

"We have been overwhelmed by the depth of sentiment that has been expressed to us over the past days. We are now getting a true feel for just how popular and well-loved he is, which has offered us a huge amount of comfort."