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"Hero" driver deliberately jack-knifed vehicle to avoid hitting cyclists, writing off £2 million supercar cargo

"It began to sway and veer and that's when I saw the cyclists": Richard Kilburn was transporting nine high-value supercars in Kent when the vehicle fishtailed in crosswinds...

The driver of a car transporter deliberately crashed his vehicle in order to avoid a potentially fatal collision with a group of cyclists, after the large lorry carrying nine supercars began to fishtail in crosswinds on a steep hill.

Richard Kilburn's almost £2 million cargo was written off in the incident on the A20 near Farningham on Wednesday, a video posted on Facebook by Ben Slipper showing the nine supercars smashed and the transporter overturned.

The 61-year-old has been called a hero for his quick thinking to avoid a worse crash as he was taking the cars from Brands Hatch race track in Kent to Goodwood in Sussex.

"It's a hill and because of the weight the transporter picks up a bit of speed, so I just touch the brakes and try and keep it to 35mph as I go down," he told MailOnline. "But it began to sway and veer and that's when I saw the cyclists on the and thought I need to stop now and just jack-knifed.

"Obviously because of the manoeuvre all the cars came off but thankfully no one was hurt and it could have been a lot worse. It was more than 40 tonnes in weight so it would caused a load of damage but the only person hurt was myself with some slight bruising but I'm ok and already back at work.

A20 vehicle transporter crash (Facebook/Ben Slipper)

"The whole thing looks worse than it is because of the value of the cars involved and it did cross my mind what the boss would say but the insurance will cover it. The most important thing is that no one was hurt."

When police officers attended the scene, the driver was breathalysed (testing negative) and was treated for minor injuries.

A source at the driving experience company, Everyman, for whom Mr Kilburn was working told the Mail their employee is "very much the hero in all this".

"He is a solid driver with years of experience behind the wheel and his quick thinking avoided something which could have ended very differently and very badly," they explained.

"These things happen but the most important thing is no one was badly hurt – the only damage was to the cars which is nothing compared to someone being hurt or killed.

A20 vehicle transporter crash (Facebook/Ben Slipper)
A20 vehicle transporter crash (Facebook/Ben Slipper)

"Richard has been with the firm for three years and he's held a licence for 12 years so he is very dependable and knows what he is doing behind the wheel. He tested negative and apart from some bruising from the seatbelt he was fine. The police investigated but there is no suggestion he did anything wrong.

"When you are driving those transporters and there is a crosswind they can sway a bit because of the weight and that's what happened to him. It got to a point where he reached the tipping point, and it went over but he went over on the side of the road to avoid the cyclists in front.

"If he had miscalculated it he would have ended up squashing them instead of scratching a few cars which will now have to be written off. The insurance teams are looking at it now but it will easily be more than a million to replace them probably more."

Kent Police confirmed they had attended an incident at 7.57pm on Wednesday 23 August. Among the damaged vehicles were a £271,000 Lamborghini Aventador, a £181,000 Aston Martin DB11, a £170,000 Mercedes AMG, two Ferrari models, and a BMW. 

"Officers attended the scene where the driver reported a minor injury. The road was closed while arrangements were made to recover the vehicles," a police spokesperson said.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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105 comments

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Muddy Ford | 5 months ago
0 likes

Did the cyclists help the driver, they must've heard the almight crash occuring? 

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HoarseMann replied to Muddy Ford | 5 months ago
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Muddy Ford wrote:

Did the cyclists help the driver, they must've heard the almight crash occuring? 

No, they didn't help. There was an article on the DM slating the ungrateful cyclists, with the driver saying "I wasn't expecting an Amazon voucher or bottle of wine, but they could have at least said thanks". Weirdly, this article has vanished from the site.

Just before the incident location there is a speed camera and a set of ANPR cameras. It's possible there's cctv footage of the incident.

A bit of me did wonder if jabbing the brakes on noticing a speed camera could also cause such a loss of control. I see a lot of drivers do this, even when they're not actually speeding. 

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Rendel Harris replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
1 like
HoarseMann wrote:

No, they didn't help. There was an article on the DM slating the ungrateful cyclists, with the driver saying "I wasn't expecting an Amazon voucher or bottle of wine, but they could have at least said thanks". Weirdly, this article has vanished from the site.

That was a bit I made up on the drivers thread as what the typical DM response would be, it wasn't actually a quote! Sorry, thought made it clear (below)

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HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

 

That was a bit I made up on the drivers thread as what the typical DM response would be, it wasn't actually a quote! Sorry, thought made it clear (below)

Lol! you got me there. Have you considered writing for the DM? You're quite good at it!

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Rendel Harris replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
1 like
HoarseMann wrote:

Lol! you got me there. Have you considered writing for the DM? You're quite good at it!

I do often wonder if the Daily Mail writers are just people making things up for a laugh, if they actually believe in the stuff they write that's quite frightening!

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GMBasix replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
2 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

I do often wonder if the Daily Mail writers are just people making things up for a laugh, if they actually believe in the stuff they write that's quite frightening!

That question amounts to an ourageous slur!... DM writers are paid. They just don't do it for a laugh!

(The fact that they laugh anyway and some of them must believe what they write is both coincidental and frightening.)

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chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
1 like
Rendel Harris wrote:

I do often wonder if the Daily Mail writers are just people making things up for a laugh, if they actually believe in the stuff they write that's quite frightening!

Isn't that a description of journalism in general?   (Or maybe more pedentically "finding" stories and telling them in a way that makes your editor laugh, or at least not call you a c***ing c***).

Andrew Marr's look at the surprisingly long history of the industry is quite interesting although I suspect you have enough reading already...

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David9694 replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
1 like

In a statement the owners added:' Just another day in the fabric of Everyman Racing life.' 

Just revisited the Mail article - I thought Rendel had made up the bit about Amazon vouchers/wine from what would now be an edition this week  - I made up some reader comments in response.

Anyway, it's all knockabout, throwaway in this world, isn't it? (In contrast to the more usual  "did you scratch my car / look at my bird / spill my pint?")

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IanMSpencer | 5 months ago
1 like

Without specific reference to this accident (to keep Nigel happy), I was intrigued enough to go down the rabbit hole where the driver alluded to the vehicle being a 44 tonner.

What are the extra requirements of a 44 tonner - basically it will be 6 axle, has to have more even weight distribution and it has to have "road friendly suspension", RFS, which typically means it has air suspension which does not transmit as much vibration into the road (unlike say a chunky tipper truck on leaf springs we often see) and generally makes it easy to load balance across axles. This made me then wonder what systems articulated lorries have for stability control (thinking about how RFS might actually introduce sway and instability but there seemed to be no literature on stability and suspension at all which I find surprising).

Stability control has been required on all new cars since 2011 so we have all got used to driving cars that get us out of most of our driving errors (and of course, when drivers try and test the limits they often will get a nasty suprise when stability control gives up, much as supercar drivers often find it is a bit silly to switch of stability control on a public road and then "see what it will do.").

Stability control does exist on HGVs (DAF promote their system for example and Mercedes reference there system from years ago). I found some references to the Government wishing to mandate this back in 2009 but nothing seems to have happened. These systems are designed to influence sway, trailer jackknife and tractor jacknife, basically detecting when the tractor and trailor movements don't match the steering input, and then reducing engine power and applying wheel braking to control and reduce the chance of a crash, much as with a car, but trickier as it is articulated.

It seems to me that there is a technical solution to reduce the risk of unstable vehicles. It seems wrong that stability control is mandated for cars yet not for lorries. (Would it be cynical to assume the RHA might have had an influence?). RoSPA suggest that lorries are as likely to be involved in accidents as other vehicles per mile travelled, but of course they are more likely to cause KSIs where a collision occurs, so this is not a trivial problem. There are about half a million HGVs on the road. 90% of lorry accidents happen off the motorway.

Of course, the other solution is that if you cannot safely load a lorry to 44 tonnes without there being risk of loss of control, then they should not be loaded to the weight limit in the first place. 

 

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Oldfatgit replied to IanMSpencer | 5 months ago
2 likes

I would have thought that cost and compatability would be an issue to introducing stability control.
You would have to get each truck manufacturer and every trailer manufacturer to agree a format and connections to ensure maximum compatibility so it wont matter if its a Scania, DAF, ERF or Seddon Atkinson hooking up. 
It would need to be introduced to both tractor units and trailers, and do you then make it a legal requirement to be retrofitted to existing vehicles?
There may be  half a million HGV on the road ... but you can bet there is a significantly greater amount of trailers.

One small hauler I worked for had 10 tractor units, 15 curtainsides, 8 40ft flat bed, 13 45ft flat bed, 3 flat bed trombones (extendable to 75ft for non-divisable sectional steel), and 2 King low-loaders.
Each driver had their 'own' tractor, and the trailers were either in the yard, coupled up or at customers getting loaded (a large portion of general haulage operate on a drop and swap basis as its cheaper and more time effective for the haulier. Means though that the driver has no control over load placement, only load security).

A national distribution company - like Eddie, or Haynes, or Wincanton will have thousands of trailers and hundreds of tractor units.

if stability control had to be fitted to each of those vehicles and trailers, the cost to the haulier would be astronomical.

Road haulage is not a buisness to get rich in - unless you are highly specialised. 
For an example, see https://www.roadhaulageservices.com/haulage-rates/

What price safety? ... well ... how much more do you want to see the cost of food and goods go up?
Who do you think will have to pay for the fitting of all this kit ... us.

Hauliers will recover their costs by increasing the rates; their customers will recover the increase by charging their customers more ... and this is the only time that Trickle Down Economy works - we'll end up footing the bill.
 

All changes in industry boil down to the same thing ... cost.
While so few people are killed / seriously injured by HGV in the UK, it may be cheaper to pay the insurance and the Next of Kin than fit the kit.
When the change goes the other way - when the changes are cheaper than life, that's when the change will happen.

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IanMSpencer replied to Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
1 like

What was interesting in my Googling was that I read something from Goverment talking about mandating this back in 2009. If Government had followed through, the majority of vehicles would have been upgraded/renewed by now. I would have mandated it in the introduction of 44 tonners, because these would have been new stock anyway, though I accept that technology has moved on quite a bit and what is commodity product now might then have been a bit more cutting edge. If car transporters are so infamously iffy to handle, surely any sensible car transporter haulier would be wanting to protect their fleet and reputation by using stability systems? Surely there must be an insurance benefit to offset any cost?

One of my mates was an accountant at British Rail, and they costed a fatality (at least a decade ago) at £1,000,000, so any safety developement that could be shown to save lives had a criteria of cost benefit. While insured, what's the cost of not having this system for the motor experience company?

Of course, people on the receiving end of life threatening or ending events probably have a different cost criteria!

I think that these days, on cars, the stability control systems are designed around industry standard comms networks using industry standard components. The likes of Merc abandoned proprietory systems a long time ago. Likewise, I would assume that lorry and trailer manufacturers work with the braking providers, so it would not be a massive effort to standardise a compatible trailer system. There aren't that many tractor manufacturers so it would be a fairly easy task to standardise. Then there are likely to be other benefits to ESC.

A bit more Can Do wouldn't go amiss.

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brogs replied to IanMSpencer | 5 months ago
1 like

Stability control systems on a car are designed to help the driver mitigate a skid. The truck driver in this case experienced an oscillation between articulated elements. Much like a "snake" when towing a caravan or trailer with a car. ESP systems are often disabled on a car when towing (they are on my Passat) because the last thing you want if you experience an oscillation is for the vehicle to be applying braking or restrictions to throttle. You need to drive out of it. The truck driver was unable to do this due to the road users ahead, so he stacked it. Good choice, but the driver is always responsible for the outcome so perhaps it would have been better to avoid getting into an oscillation in the first place.

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IanMSpencer replied to brogs | 5 months ago
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I did some Googling and the DAF system definitely claimed to deal with the sway. Driving out is about trying to pull the trailer straight, but if you have independent trailer braking, it seems logical you can have the trailer drag itself back into line, and with stability control this could be more effective, using the trickery of knowing where to apply braking to tame the beast.

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Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
2 likes

A dude literally deliberately crashed his HGV carrying millions of pounds worth of cargo to avoid hitting cyclists, and all the road.cc members can do is froth and come up with ridiculous claims that have all been disproven (thanks oldfatgit) about the driver and the lorry. 

Why not just be grateful that the cyclists were not injured or even killed.

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David9694 replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
6 likes

Daily Mail reader checking-in. Shall we go with "Truck driver avoids others having to pay with their lives for his mistake"?

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to David9694 | 6 months ago
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David9694 wrote:

"his mistake"?

There was no mistake as far as we know. 

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David9694 replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
5 likes

If you're going with that, then the entire system of road freight transportation is unsafe. 

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Car Delenda Est replied to David9694 | 6 months ago
2 likes
David9694 wrote:

the entire system of road freight transportation is unsafe. 

Correct

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Rendel Harris replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
5 likes
Jeremy Corbyn for PM wrote:
David9694 wrote:

"his mistake"?

There was no mistake as far as we know. 

With the only evidence being the driver's word - no dashcam footage and where are these cyclists he heroically saved? Haven't any of the ungrateful bastards come forward to say thank you?

I'm just being cynical of course, what possible motive could a driver who will be asking his insurance company to pay out for £2 million worth of supercars have for claiming it wasn't his fault?

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Left_is_for_Losers replied to Rendel Harris | 6 months ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
Jeremy Corbyn for PM wrote:
David9694 wrote:

"his mistake"?

There was no mistake as far as we know. 

With the only evidence being the driver's word - no dashcam footage and where are these cyclists he heroically saved? Haven't any of the ungrateful bastards come forward to say thank you?

I'm just being cynical of course, what possible motive could a driver who will be asking his insurance company to pay out for £2 million worth of supercars have for claiming it wasn't his fault?

That's why I said "as far as we know"

Besides, if the truck was behind, they may not have even stopped - assuming that the driver had a separate incident. If a car crashed behind me, I wouldn't automatically assume that it was because it was saving me.

Stop clutching at straws and misconstruing my words. Thanks

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Oldfatgit replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 6 months ago
4 likes

"ridiculous claims that have all been disproven (thanks oldfatgit) "

I've not disproven anything.
In order to do that, I would have needed to have been there, and have driven his vehicle in exactly the same circumstances.

I've merely presented a view that it *may* have happened the way the driver has reported... and not that it *did*

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tootsie323 | 6 months ago
1 like

The point of the article is that the HGV driver, aware that his vehicle was swaying out of control, made a quick decision to 'topple' it rather than risk the lives of a group of vulnerable road users.

How he found himself in that position is (i) a matter for the authorities and (ii) secondary (in the article) to the subsequent actions he took. Oh, and it seems (iii) worthy of a good couple of pages-worth of speculation.

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IanMSpencer replied to tootsie323 | 6 months ago
4 likes

On the other hand it is in the Mail, so we have the unproven claims of an interested party plus the spin of an unreliable reporting source. But also that is not what he claims even in the article: 

"'But it began to sway and veer and that's when I saw the cyclists on the and[sic] thought I need to stop now and just jack-knifed.'" so in other words, he lost control and jammed on the brakes and crashed - there was no deliberate toppling in some James Bond fashion - he himself is saying that he knew it was out of control, just stuck the brakes on and was in the lap of the Gods as to what happened. The hero bit comes from the source at he driver experience company who was not a witness says "'If he had miscalculated it he would have ended up squashing them instead of scratching a few cars which will now have to be written off." but the driver himself doesn't suggest he made some brilliant assessment - the spokesperson just made something up and the Mail ran with it.

The article itself is speculative, it doesn't get a free pass of being fact. It is a fact that the public should not be exposed to incidents like this, however caused.

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Fignon's ghost | 6 months ago
6 likes

Thank you, Mr Kilburn. Cars can be repaired or replaced. Cyclists cannot.

Now why isn't rcc covering the lead ULEZ article in today's gruniad?
Khan for mayor👏

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speculatrix replied to Fignon's ghost | 6 months ago
0 likes

But statistically, cyclists are a renewable resource whilst supercars are much rarer!  4

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Eton Rifle replied to speculatrix | 6 months ago
3 likes
speculatrix wrote:

But statistically, cyclists are a renewable resource whilst supercars are much rarer!  4

Dick.

That is all.

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Geordiepeddeler replied to speculatrix | 6 months ago
7 likes

@speculatrix. My 3 friends who were killed by cars aren't replaceable. The worst thing about it they were responsible riders and comments like yours don't have a place on this site. Totally disrespectful and immature!

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Car Delenda Est | 6 months ago
9 likes
Everyman wrote:

These things happen..

Do they? Do these things happen to cars transported by rail; or as a society have we made the poor decisions that led to incidents like this happening?

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Oldfatgit replied to Car Delenda Est | 6 months ago
1 like

Cars transported by rail do not have a vehicle height of 15ft. Railway carriages tend to be less than 10ft.

Road Bridges in the UK must have minimum height of 16ft 6in or be signed.
ScotRail has just spend a fortune replacing bridges because electric trains wouldn't fit under them.

Rail car trailers are constructed differently than road trailers and their load distribution is totally different.

Height-wise - you can get a rail car transporter in a road trailer ... but you can't get a road car transporter trailer on a rail carriage

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Car Delenda Est replied to Oldfatgit | 6 months ago
0 likes

Ah so road trailers have a far higher center of weight and are intrinsically less safe?

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