‘Short but meaningful’ licence reduction after bridge strike
A decision by the Traffic Commissioner sees Atlantic Travel (GB) Ltd have its operator’s licence limited for 14 days after one of its vehicles hit a bridge.
The operator and its Transport Managers were called to public inquiry after one of its double-deckers collided with a railway bridge on 27 May 2022. The vehicle was transporting school children and members of school staff at the time of the accident.
The driver of the vehicle that hit the bridge, Hassan Akhtar, had used Google Maps to reroute in an attempt to avoid congestion, concerned he might be late for his later school run. However, the app did not account for vehicle heights, giving no warning of the low bridge.
A conjoined driver conduct hearing was held for the driver. Traffic Commissioner for the North West of England, Gerallt Evans, considered that his vocational entitlement should be revoked, and he was disqualified from holding a PSV driving licence for six months.
The TC is satisfied the operator had taken some steps to address the risk of bridge strikes before the incident in May 2022. Following the collision, the operator ensured all its drivers undertook a two-hour long course specifically on bridge strike avoidance in June 2022 and has reissued its guidance on the use of sat-navs. It has also recruited an additional supervisor to assist with route planning and has invested in software called ‘Lorry Route’ to provide vehicle-specific routes.
Traffic Commissioner Gerallt Evans ruled that while primary accountability for the bridge strike must rest with the driver of the bus that hit the bridge, there were failings on the part of the operator and its Transport Managers that contributed as well. It was found that the operator’s compliance is good and is continually improving, which confirms the TC’s view that there are no wider compliance issues that merit regulatory action.
The TC limited the number of PSVs on Atlantic Travel’s 37-vehicle licence for a ‘short but meaningful’ 14 days. It has been reduced by five vehicles, the number used for private hire work, which should not affect the operator’s ability to service its school transport and rail replacement commitments.
- The full decision can be seen here.