Judge advises driver about cruise control

A judge has suggested a Jacks Point man rely less on his car’s "adaptive cruise control" when driving in Queenstown.

Harry Ficks (60), cleaner, was driving towards the resort’s town centre on the Ladies Mile on February 9 when he rear-ended a vehicle near a roundabout.

The impact caused the victim’s vehicle to spin around and her head to violently strike part of its interior, leaving her with concussion, a neck sprain and a dislocated jaw.

Counsel Paige Noorland said the defendant was following the victim’s vehicle at about 40kmh when the front vehicle began to slow for the roundabout.

He realised his vehicle’s adaptive cruise control was not slowing it sufficiently, and by the time he began braking manually, it was too late.

Adaptive cruise control is a common feature in modern vehicles that uses radar and cameras to automatically adjust a vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.

Ficks, a South African national living in the resort on a resident visa, appeared before Judge Bernadette Farnan in the Queenstown District Court on Tuesday.

He was arrested on Monday after failing to appear for sentencing on an earlier date.

He had already admitted a charge of careless driving causing injury to the victim.

The victim, who incurred medical and dental expenses and had to take time off work because of her injuries, recommended the defendant complete a defensive driving course.

Judge Farnan convicted Ficks, disqualified him from driving for six months, and ordered him to pay the victim $569 in reparation and $600 for emotional harm.

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