By Ian Lewis
Motorists who drove "like idiots" on a fogbound bridge, contributing to a massive pile-up, have a chance to avoid court by going back to the classroom.
Kent Police believe attending a road awareness course will benefit those who were driving without due care and attention more than prosecuting them.
Letters offering a chance to enrol on the course have been sent to 32 motorists involved in the 150-vehicle pile-up on the Sheppey Crossing last September, which left over 200 people injured.
Police say if they turn down the offer the motorists will be summonsed to court and prosecuted.
Pile-up continued for 10 minutes
With visibility down to just 25 yards, the early morning pile-up continued for 10 minutes as cars and lorries collided with each other on the Sittingbourne-bound section of the bridge.
Eight people were seriously injured in the incident and another 200 were treated at the scene, which shut the bridge for over nine hours.
The head of Kent's serious collision investigation unit, Inspector Martin Stevens, said it was "quite simply a miracle" that nobody had been killed.
The decision to spare drivers a court appearance follows a four-month investigation by Kent Police that suggested some drivers were not driving appropriately for the conditions.
Kent Police completed collision investigation
A spokesman for Kent Police said: "This has been a thorough investigation of what was the biggest collision in the county and certainly the largest our team has had to deal with.
"The emergency services and partner agencies worked together to support those involved in the collision.
"Attention then quickly turned to the recovery process and getting the crossing back up and running by the early evening, which was no mean feat.
"Clearly the thick fog that descended on the bridge that day made driving conditions incredibly challenging.
Collision stretched across entire bridge
"This was a contributory factor in the resulting collision which stretched from the approach right across the bridge.
"A significant number of drivers did precisely the right thing by driving to the conditions.
"However, our investigation has provided overwhelming evidence that in some cases motorists were not driving with due care and attention.
"They were travelling at speeds which prevented them being able to stop in the distances that they could see ahead.
Educating drivers preferred to court proceedings
"Rather than go through the process of taking these people to court, it was felt that offering an educational outcome would prove far more beneficial for the drivers involved.
"Driving at speed without clear visibility is without doubt extremely dangerous and the fact there was not a single fatality on the day is quite simply a miracle."
Those choosing to take the one-day course will have to fund it themselves.
It will involve interactive classroom activities and a supervised drive with an instructor.