A “CHEERFUL and chatty” Southampton woman may have been distracted by her dog moments before she was involved in a fatal accident on a major Hampshire road.

Karen Vivien Anderson was driving with her Jack Russell in the car when it careered off the A31 near Stoney Cross.

Her vehicle landed 30 metres from the road, on its side and in bushes beside the dual-carriageway.

Mrs Anderson, who lived in Shirley, Southampton, suffered substantial internal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead on her arrival to hospital.

At her inquest, held at Winchester Coroner’s Court on Thursday, a road collision expert said Mrs Anderson may have been distracted seconds before the crash.

He also said Mrs Anderson, who suffered from a number of health conditions, may have suffered a short medical episode.

Her death, at the age of 57, was ruled as a result of a road traffic collision.

The inquest heard how Mrs Anderson was driving to see her mother on January 11 this year when she was involved in the crash on the westbound A31, just after the Stoney Cross services.

The crash took place around 6.20pm, while it was dark.

The inquest heard that two witnesses saw Mrs Anderson’s maroon coloured Citroen swerve towards the central reservation, before swerving back off the carriageway.

Now-retired collision expert, Anthony Johnson, of Hampshire Constabulary, said the angle that Mrs Anderson had driven off the road made it likely she was either distracted, possibly by her dog, or suffered a short medical episode prior to the crash.

He said:

“It may have been distraction from within the vehicle, but bearing in mind Mrs Anderson’s medical conditions and medication it is possible these could have been a contributing factors.”

In his summary, Senior Coroner Chris Wilkinson said: “There were two possible scenarios [as to the reason for the crash].

“On the balance of probability I cannot say which one it was.”

Following the death of Mrs Anderson, who lived at Tintern Grove, Southampton, family members paid tribute to her, describing her as “a cheerful, chatty woman to anyone who listened”.