Van driver eating crisps and using mobile phone knocks down schoolgirl in Swindon

Motorists are being reminded of the dangers of driving while distracted, after a van driver hit a schoolgirl while he was eating crisps behind the wheel.

The girl, who was 14 at the time of the incident, was walking home from school in March last year when she crossed Hyde Road in Swindon.

Footage from inside James Groves' van showed the 25-year-old was eating a packet of crisps and using his mobile phone at the time of the collision.

Groves pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and drug driving, and was sentenced last month to an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also disqualified from driving for two years.

And while the girl did not suffer life-changing injuries during the incident, she did require stitches for an eye injury and was left badly bruised all over her body.

Police say she still suffers from headaches and struggles to concentrate almost a year after the collision.

In a victim impact statement provided to the court, the schoolgirl said: “I don’t remember much about the incident itself, I just remember waking up in hospital and my dad telling me I had been hit by a van.

"I am still feeling overwhelmed about the whole incident. I still get headaches when trying to focus on the television or mobile phone.

"This pain is like shooting pains and I normally go to sleep once I get this pain to try and help.

"When I try to sleep I keep thinking about the incident and then I struggle to get off to sleep.”

A/Sgt Ben Greening of Wiltshire Police said: “This collision could have been so easily avoided had the driver been giving the road his full attention.

“Following the collision, we obtained footage from inside the vehicle which showed the driver was clearly not concentrating – this falls well below the level of driving we would expect.

“It shouldn’t take an incident like this for drivers to be reminded of the dangers of using a mobile phone when driving, eating, or anything that takes your concentration away from the road.

"Eating a packet of crisps whilst driving may seem minor to some, but if your hands aren’t on the steering wheel, your ability to stop quickly should the need arise is greatly reduced.”