Express Motors fined after driver had insufficient rest

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Penygroes-based Express Motors has appeared in court faced with charges of failing to ensure drivers have had sufficient rest and recorded other work undertaken, the Cambrian News reported.

A Neoplan Tourliner operated by the Gwynedd firm crashed in eastern France last July when carrying teenagers to an Italian camping holiday. The court proceedings were not directly related to the incident and concerned unconnected charges brought by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Express Motors pleaded guilty to failing to ensure driver Melvyn Lane had sufficient rest and failing to record other work undertaken by him last July, a few days before the crash.

The coach had been carrying 44 Gloucestershire teenagers, two of whom were badly hurt in the incident.

The company was fined £1,250 with a £125 surcharge and order to pay costs of £600 by magistrates at Caernarfon in cases brought under European Regulations.

Driver Melvyn Lane, 51, admitted taking less than the compulsory nine hours of rest time and not recording other work. He was fined £246 with a £30 surcharge and £450 costs.

Court Chairman Diane Arbabi said that while it appeared to have been an isolated incident, the law was in place to ensure road safety.

A prosecuting solicitor, Anna Moran, said Lane had failed to record that he had worked an 2330 to 0800hrs night shift with the GP out of hours service before starting work with Express Motors from 1415 to 2200hrs. His period of rest had been six hours 15 minutes, but nine hours were required.

He’d told investigators that because he was not physically driving on a journey that day, being second driver on a coach journey to Leominster, he had not thought he had fallen foul of regulations.

His solicitor Michael Strain said he had fallen three and a half hours short of the compulsory nine hours rest, but it was due to a lack of knowledge on his part.

Representing the company, John Heaton called it ‘a mix-up and misunderstanding.’ He said Express Motors had been fully aware that Mr Lane worked for the overnight GP service.