Car in Newport M4 fatal crash was doing 98mph
1:10pm Friday 20th September 2013 in Gwent news
David Archer, 67, of Cardiff, was driving a rented Peugeot 308 car eastbound on the motorway at around 3am on March 15, when shortly after junction 26 (for Malpas) it mounted the grass verge, smashed into an electricity substation, hit a wall and slid to a halt inside the tunnel. No other vehicle was involved.
In the aftermath, the motorway was closed between junctions 28 at Tredegar House and 25a at the Coldra while the substation and the eastbound Brynglas Tunnel were assessed for potential structural damage. Major delays were reported, with five-mile queues on the M4 back to junction 30 during the rush hour, and heavy congestion on the A48.
Mr Archer, whose 67th birthday was the previous day, was the only person in the car and the cause of his death was subsequently confirmed at a post mortem examination as multiple injuries.
But there was no alcohol and no drugs in his body, and no sign of illness. An inspection of the car - which was substantially damaged in the crash - did not reveal any defect that might have contributed, and the road surface was in good condition.
PC Paul Hawkins, a collision investigator with Gwent Police, told Gwent coroner David Bowen that, based on CCTV camera footage and timings, the car had been travelling at an average speed of 99mph leading up to the crash, and around 98mph when it happened.
The car had left the road between the end of the feeder lane onto the eastbound M4 from junction 26 and the tunnel.
He added that, as the speed measurement took in a distance including the whole of the section known as the Malpas straight, it was unlikely that Mr Archer, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Mr Bowen said there had been much speculation about the reason for the loss of control of the car, but he said: "It is possible he dozed off seconds before the accident occurred. Given the lack of evidence of braking and the impact, that would seem a feasible conclusion."
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