Police crackdown on overloading

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Herts Constabulary warns drivers & operators will be prosecuted if PSVs found to exceed legal passenger capacity

A school bus driver stopped by police for jumping a red light in Little Hadham was pulled over again the following day for carrying too many children. Police found the bus, which was working service 351 to Bishop’s Stortford, had six too many passengers on board when the vehicle was stopped at the A120 crossroads during the morning rush hour on January 9.

Concerns about overcrowding had been raised by an officer who had dealt with the same driver for the original motoring offence the previous day.

Inspector Chris Hunt said: “The officer reported it seemed to be too full so we went back the next day and found children standing right up to the front windscreen.”

The school bus, which was operated by Harlow-based Olympian Coaches and collects children from the outlying villages, is permitted to carry a maximum of 49 passengers – 23 seated and 26 standing – but 55 were found on board.

Inspector Hunt continued: “We took the six off and sent the bus on its way because some of the children were taking exams. We then stayed with the others at the bus stop at Little Hadham until another bus was sent to pick them up, which took about 30 minutes.

“The danger is that had the bus been involved in a crash then those children would have gone through the windscreen, so obviously we are extremely concerned about the safety element.”

The driver, a foreign national, has been reported for dangerous driving as well as jumping the red light the previous day. He could face a fine and penalty points on his licence, while his employer could also face prosecution.

CBW first learned about the matter after a memo was circulated to operators by Hertfordshire County Council – but there is almost always a trigger for such reminders, so CBW dug deeper.

Adrian Hardy, Team Leader, Contract Management, Transport Access & Safety Unit, informed operators: “Hertfordshire Police have notified us they will be taking action against any operator overloading their vehicles by contravening schedule 7.- (1) of The Public Service Vehicles (Carrying Capacity) Regulations 1984. As you will know, this schedule states that ‘no person shall drive, or cause or permit to be driven, on a road a vehicle if the number of standing passengers exceeds the maximum specified in relation to that vehicle’.

“They have also indicated they will take action against any company which permits passengers to stand in the front of a vehicle. In The Public Service Vehicles (Carrying Capacity) Regulations 1984 schedule 7.- (2) (b), this is defined as forward of the rearmost part of the driver’s seat, so that the driver must have a clear view of the front nearside screen, front doors and nearside mirror at all times.

“Please can you instruct your drivers of this as a matter of urgency and make sure you indicate on your buses that no standing shall occur beyond that point. I would be grateful for your co-operation.”

On Thursday, Duncan Wallace from Hertfordshire Police told CBW: “VOSA and the Traffic Commissioner will be notified once we have compiled a complete file on the incident so they can deal with the situation as they see fit, though it should be noted that this offence is endorseable against the driver’s license.

“In addition, investigations will be undertaken to see if it is the company at fault, or if this is an individual driver not following company procedure.”