Getting the horn

It has always been perfectly clear to me that Diana and Dodi died as a result of reckless and drunken driving (and not wearing seal belts) and recent statements by witnesses only confirm that view. I've been driving for over forty years (often too fast) and I've had the odd near miss (a car pulled straight out of a side turning in front of me last week and I had to brake, avoid a collision and keep control of my rear wheel drive, non ABS sports car on a greasy road. But I know one thing for certain. In a situation like that I don't have time to frantically sound the horn for a 'fairly long' time.

The latest witness statements make it clearer than ever what happened that night.  David Laurent had to swerve to avoid hitting a 'slow moving' car in the Alma tunnel seconds before the fatal crash. Mr Laurent claims he was driving no faster than 50mph but, as we all know, drivers are notorious for underestimating their speed. The fact that he was 'taken by surprise' by the car in front indicates to me that he was travelling pretty fast. The car he had to swerve to avoid was, according to Mr Laurent,  travelling 'extremely slowly' but later he claimed the car was driving at up to 25mph. Once again the predictable underestimation of speed this time which is what you get when drivers accuse other drivers of going too slowly (especially when they themselves are travelling at speed). The limit in the Alma tunnel is 31mph so, even at 25mph, the offending vehicle can hardly be said to be travelling 'extremely slowly'. In all probability the car was doing closer to the 31mph speed limit (and in the nearside lane) and Mr Laurent approached it from behind at closer to 55 - 60mph, hence his surprise and the need to swerve.

By the time Diana's car entered the tunnel the slow moving vehicle would have travelled even further along allowing even more time for a following driver to see and avoid it. And indeed witnesses said they heard the sound of a horn being frantically hooted followed by the screech of brakes and then the sound of a collision. Clearly Henri Paul didn't slam on the brakes as soon as he saw the car. Indeed you have to ask why he sounded the horn at all and didn't just brake, move into the outside lane and overtake.

Was Henri Paul trying to intimidate the Uno driver into getting out of his way rather than overtake it? Did the driver of the car panic and start to move to the left at the same time as Paul attempted, belatedly to pass it? We will never know for sure but one thing is certain. The hapless driver of the Fiat Uno was driving in the correct lane at the correct speed when not one but two cars entered the Alma tunnel at speed. One probably doing 25 mph over the limit and the other, driven by Paul, doing in excess of twice the speed limit.

The stopping distance for the Mercedes travelling at 60mph is about 200ft. At 31mph it would stop in less than 70ft. But add on the effects of tiredness, drink and medication and you are looking at a thinking distance at 60mph in excess of the total stopping distance at 31mph. It's not rocket science. Henri Paul had been drinking and was driving too fast (as was Mr Laurent) and the only driver in the tunnel at that time who was doing absolutely nothing wrong was the poor guy driving the Fiat Uno, French/Vietnamese security guard Le Van Thanh, who has refused requests from the coroner Lord Justice Scott-Baker to attend the inquest (who can blame him?) and who Lord Stevens referred to in his Paget report as 'a strong suspect'. 

What is he strongly suspected of, driving with due care and attention? Driving while sober?