Following a serious accident, the Traffic Commissioner had to consider the rules around split service registrations when it comes to drivers under the age of 21
Traffic Commissioner for the South West Kevin Rooney published his written decision on 3 August following the call to Public Inquiry of Stagecoach Devon as a result of a serious accident which left a double-decker on its side in 2019.
Stagecoach Devon Ltd holds a standard national public service vehicle operator’s licence, authorising the use of 475 vehicles. The directors are Bruce Dingwall, Carla Stockton-Jones and Michael Watson, with Transport Managers Anthony James Vincent, appointed in May 2020, Katy Wagstaff, appointed in August 2021, and Simon Ford, appointed the week before the hearing.
The inquiry was called to deal with two matters, though the written decision only dealt with one: the incident which occurred on 5 October 2019 when a double deck bus left the road and came to a stop on its side in a field. There were 37 casualties, of which 10 were serious. The bus was being driven by Kameron Allan, who was not a regular driver and he was only 19 years old at the time. The route in question was in excess of 50km; drivers under 21 are disqualified from driving routes in-service of that length, however the route had been registered as a split service to avoid the need to comply with the EU drivers hours and tachograph rules, following an indication from the Department of Transport (DfT) in 2008 that such an approach was acceptable in that context.
Mr Allan was initially charged with ten offences of causing serious injury through dangerous driving but those charges were dropped and Mr Allan was convicted in July 2021 of a single offence of careless driving. The Traffic Comissioner said he was concerned that the operator ‘may have operated a service in a manner dangerous to the public’ and ‘may have allowed that service to be driven by a disqualified driver.’
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