Wasp crash: Court stings driver

2012-12-31 09:24

LONDON, England - What would you do if you were traveling down a freeway at 120km/h and a wasp appeared in your car? What if you had a phobia of insects?

In this case a British driver claimed his fear of being stung by a wasp led to the death of Anne Bater, 68, in a crash on the M3 in Hampshire, southern England.

Richard Knight, responsible for the fatal crash in May 2012, said the buzzing insect made him swerve across a three-lane freeway in southern England while traveling at 112km/h. He "didn't want to be stung".


He did, however, plead guilty to dangerous driving; the wasp story was in mitigation of any penalty or jail sentence the magistrates might have imposed - in particular a driving ban. The bench rejected his excuse, however, and slung him off the roads for a year-and-a-half.

Knight was also order to do 200 hours of unpaid community service during the 18-months driving ban.

Knight's VW Golf hit Bater's Honda Jazz which careered off the motorway and overturned. Bater's husband Keith, a passenger, survived with a back injury.

Knight said he tried to force the wasp out of his car window but it remained inside and distracted him. Psychiatric tests later revealed that he suffered from entomophobia - a fear of insects. He told magistrates: "I was very anxious and worried. I obviously did not want to be stung and my instinct was just to get it out of the car."

Prosecutor James Burnham said Knight's "special reason" application to avoid a driving ban should be ignored - he should have pulled on to the hard shoulder to let the wasp out. Magistrate Roy Cleave said he could even have taken other steps to avoid the crash.


Wasps, bees and other stinging insects can be a pest if they manage to get in a vehicle. Have you had a brush with any invading insects leading to a close call behind the wheel? Share your thoughts in our Readers' Comments section below or email Wheels24 and we'll publish your thoughts.