Nine-month vocational entitlement suspension by Deputy Traffic Commissioner, despite no police action
A coach driver who made the headlines last summer after he drove the wrong way down a slip road on the M1 into oncoming traffic has been disqualified from professional driving for nine months.
Mark Ingleton, 35, had his vocational driving entitlement revoked by Deputy Traffic Commissioner (DTC) Simon Evans.
The DTC concluded that Mark, a driver for Reays Coaches, had let himself, his passengers and his employer down and that his conduct was “unbecoming” of a professional.
The DTC said that the situation faced by Mark – a motorway hold-up – was a relatively common place scenario. On July 5, 2015, Mark was travelling on the M1 in Northamptonshire carrying members of the Whitehaven Rugby League team back to Whitehaven, following a fixture in London.
An accident ahead had led to delays and queues, with slow and stationary traffic in all northbound lanes going north and tailing back beyond Junction 18, near Crick. The vehicle’s tracker revealed it was stationary for 40 minutes. Mark undertook a three point turn before driving the wrong way down a slip road and into traffic (including a HGV) attempting to join the motorway.
Mark did not dispute the facts, and accepted responsibility for what he did. Giving evidence however, Mark told the DTC that he had come under pressure from passengers to carry out the manoeuvre, which a number of other road users had already performed.
In making representations, Mark’s solicitor, David Glover described a split second decision taken “in the moment”, not made for personal convenience or gain. David argued it could be taken as a “one-off” in the context of a good career and a clean driving licence, whilst acknowledging the offence was a serious one of an extreme nature. He pointed to Mark being taken on again by Reays after a short period away, and him undertaking some retraining– in the face of the very adverse publicity to Reays that flowed from the CCTV footage being shown on news channels and being available on the internet. There had been no police prosecution taken. He contended that any action taken might be towards the lower end of the powers available.
At the material time he had in fact resigned his employment because of traumatic family circumstances but had been persuaded to see out the busy summer season.
While the DTC acknowledged that some of the passengers had become agitated and were affected by alcohol, he said it was a “spectacular failure” by Mark not to deal with the pressure situation.
The DTC noted that the incident was an isolated one in an otherwise positive driving career and that Mark had since undertaken retraining.
In his favour, and militating in favour of a reduced period of disqualification, the DTC noted: “Mark has been open and straightforward in his presentation; That this is an isolated incident, coupled to the willingness of his employer to take him back; That no actual accident or injury was caused to any person, albeit that this is in my view more associated with good fortune than anything else; That retraining has been undertaken, albeit that the central issue here was the exercise of poor judgement not ignorance of the requirements; The passage of time between the incident and this consideration, which has been an extended one, and the fact no further adverse reports are made; and that Mark is able to satisfy me that he has some insight into how he had been ready to place passengers and the public at risk.”
In addition to Mark’s PCV licence suspension, the DTC recorded “a warning as to his future conduct.”
He added: “This period when he will not be able to follow his chosen career will suitably mark the seriousness of his failures and give him the opportunity further reflect on the incident and to evidence for a longer period compliant driving other than in a PCV.”