Fatal bus crash could make telematics compulsory for public sector fleets

Written by: Abaranji Sivakumar, Last updated:14th February 2022

Telematics could be made compulsory for public services fleets after a crash that claimed two lives was caused by dangerous driving by an 80-year-old bus driver who was later diagnosed with dementia.

Birmingham Crown Court found that Kailash Chander, a driver for Stagecoach subsidiary Midland Red South, was driving dangerously when he caused the deaths of Rowan Fitzgerald and Dora Hancox in Coventry city centre in October 2015, FleetNews reports.

Prosecutors argued that Mr Chander mistook the accelerator for the brake before the crash, and highlighted the multiple warning signs leading up to the incident, including the eight warning letters about the standard of his driving.

Mr Chander was also involved in four other driving incidents in the previous three years and missed a one-to-one meeting about concerns over his driving because “his bosses needed him to be out driving”.

Stagecoach had already pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act in September 2017: failing to ensure the safety of employees and failing to ensure members of the public were not exposed to risks to their safety arising out of the driving of public service vehicles (PSVs).

Stagecoach will be sentenced on November 26th and faces an unlimited fine.

Currently, the traffic commissioner, the government body responsible for licensing and regulating operators of HGVs, PSVs and local bus services, does not consider telematics systems a compulsory requirement.

Paul Loughlin, a solicitor at law firm Stephensons, reckons the whole episode could mean that public service fleets and HGVs may be forced to introduce telematics and driver behaviour monitoring.

He commented: “As in this case, operators can be prosecuted for ignoring clear and indisputable issues relating to health and safety deficiencies highlighted by telematics systems.

“Regulatory action might also come before the traffic commissioner as a result.”

Any revisions to regulations in the wake of the trial would have to be proposed by the Department for Transport before being approved by the traffic commissioner.

Jenny Smith, product manager for Tele-Gence, added: “Telematics can be very useful in flagging up sub-standard driving but the information is only useful if it is acted upon.”