Durham coach driver drove in storm with no wipers

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A driver risked the lives of 64 passengers when he travelled along a motorway during a storm with no working windscreen wipers, ITV News reported.

William Blundell had 36 children and 28 adults on board his coach, which he continued to drive despite being barely able to see what was ahead of him.

One frightened mum, who was travelling with her daughter as the coach travelled through the darkness, got so afraid she rang her partner at home, who alerted the police.

Officers stopped the coach, which was travelling from Blyth in Northumberland to Pennywell Community Centre in Sunderland, at Testos roundabout and prevented William from travelling any further in the vehicle.

The 54-year-old, of Seaham, County Durham, admitted he had “bowed to pressure” by passengers who had been keen to complete the journey instead of waiting two hours for a replacement coach after he reported his wipers were broken.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Newcastle Crown Court and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with a 12 month driving ban and £340 costs.

Judge Deborah Sherwin said a “risk was placed upon the lives of the passengers on the coach.”

The judge told Blundell: “You initially did the right thing – you contacted the company and were told there would be a delay of two hours.

“When the information was passed to passengers, some prevailed upon you to start driving.

“It was your duty as a driver to resist the passengers because the safety of the adults and children on that coach should have been at the forefront of your mind.”

Prosecutor Paul Rowland told the court Blundell had picked up the party of passengers on behalf of his company on August 1 last year when it started to drizzle and then rain heavily.

Mr Rowland said: “Bearing in mind he is a professional driver, he was carrying both children and adults, and the nature of the road conditions, there was a substantial risk.”

Katherine Dunn, defending, said Blundell is a timid man with a good work record who admits his actions were “stupidity, a foolish, foolish error.”

The court heard Blundell has been kept on by his company doing yard work but fears for his long-term future at the firm.

Miss Dunn added: “He bitterly regrets his actions. He is thankful no-one was injured and there was no accident as a result of his actions.”