Guided busway driver is handed suspended sentence after crash

The guided bus crashing near Trumpington

The guided bus crashing near Trumpington - Credit: Archant

A guided bus driver who was reading a time duty card and travelling at nearly double the recommended speed when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed, injuring five passengers, has been given a suspended prison sentence.

The guided bus crashing near Trumpington

The guided bus crashing near Trumpington - Credit: Archant

Van Chuyen Le, of Kent Road, in Huntingdon, could not see the track ahead and was not gripping the steering wheel when the Stagecoach East bus jumped the track and ran up an embankment near Cambridge, a court has been told.

Le admitted a breach of the Health and Safety Act when he appeared before magistrates at Huntingdon and was sentenced to 12 weeks’ custody, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

Magistrates were told that Le was employed by Cambus Ltd, trading as Stagecoach East, when he lost control of the bus he was driving as he negotiated a gap in the guided section of the track.

The bus jumped over the track, travelled across an adjacent path and came to rest on the side of a grassy embankment.

Magistrates heard that five of his passengers suffered injuries which included a fractured spine, pelvis, ribs and whiplash.

An investigation by the Health and safety Executive (HSE) showed that Le was reading a time duty card whilst driving and had no vision of the busway ahead of him because of this. He was also found not to be gripping the steering wheel.

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It also found that Le was driving at a speed of 52mph when the maximum recommended speed for the area was 30mph.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Nigel Fitzhugh said: “Drivers of guided buses must remain vigilant at all times. It is especially important to do so when driving on guided sections as the absence of steering control may create a sense that full control of the bus is being maintained.

“Members of the public should be assured that HSE seriously considers the risks to their health and safety and takes appropriate enforcement action where necessary.”

On guided sections of the busway the bus runs inside the concrete sections of the track which steers the vehicle through special guide wheels. The route, which links Huntingdon to Cambridge, opened in 2011.