A Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire bus driver from Tebay, who was found guilty of driving without due care and attention, has been suspended from professional driving for three months.
Gerrard Chard, 61, was deemed unfit to drive passenger carrying vehicles by Deputy Traffic Commissioner Miles Dorrington following a conduct hearing.
His decision follows an incident in June 2015, where Gerrard was driving a Stagecoach bus on the A685 heading towards Tebay.
The vehicle was carrying a number of passengers when it collided with a car being driven in the opposite direction and subsequently crashed into a nearby property. 17 passengers, including three schoolchildren, were injured.
During a conduct hearing on April 8, 2016, the Deputy Traffic Commissioner heard evidence from Mr Chard about the incident. He admitted that he crossed over the white line to get a better view around the corner.
However, David Lee-Kong, Operations Director and Transport Manager for Stagecoach Cumbria and Lancashire, said Mr Chard had not needed to do what he did – a view which was supported by the police.
The Deputy Traffic Commissioner noted that while Mr Chard had a previously unblemished driving history, as a professional driver he was charged with a higher degree of care.
“He was responsible for ensuring road safety and the safety of his passengers,” Miles Dorrington said.
“I find that Mr Chard’s failure to drive properly was the cause of the accident and as a result 17 people were injured, one of whom had to be air lifted to hospital.
“Mr Chard could have undertaken the manoeuvre he did without crossing the central white line.
“This is a serious case and even after balancing the positives against the negatives I find that the negatives substantially outweigh the positives.”
Gerrard had not driven a bus since the incident, due to combination of injuries sustained and personal choice.
The Deputy Traffic Commissioner concluded: “Bearing in mind the length of time that Mr Chard has already been unable to drive passenger carrying vehicles, I determine that the proportionate regulatory action is to suspend Mr Chard’s vocational driving entitlement for three months until July 8, 2016.”
A spokesman for Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire told CBW that the operator did not wish to make a comment on the decision.