A truck driver has been disqualified from professional driving for 10 years after causing a crash while speeding and using her mobile phone.
In a written decision following a driver conduct hearing in Welshpool in July, traffic commissioner (TC) for Wales, Nick Jones (pictured) revoked Nel Owen’s vocational licence and disqualified the 28-year-old from holding or applying for any vocational entitlement for 10 years, saying she should not be allowed to drive HGVs “for a very long period of time”.
In November 2014 Owen, from Criccieth, was driving an animal transporter on the A470 near Caersws when she crashed into a car as it waited to turn right, knocking it into the path of a transit van. A woman and her two children in the car were injured.
One, a seven-month-old baby, was treated in hospital for six days for bruising on the brain. An investigation showed that during her journey of 1hr 45mins Owen had been using her own mobile phone and that of her employer to make 22 calls and send a text.
The HGV was authorised to travel at 40mph, but Owen had reached 56mph on 12 occasions. A motorist driving behind her witnessed her repeatedly swerving across the centre white lines and solid centre markings.
Owen was also seen looking down at one mobile phone in its hands-free cradle and throwing another mobile phone into a field following the accident. In an interview after the crash, Owen falsely claimed she had stopped using her mobile phone 10 minutes before the collision.
Owen admitted dangerous driving at Mold Crown Court in 2015 and she was sentenced to 10 months in prison and banned from driving for three years. The TC was told that between January 2013 and September 2015 Owen had picked up several convictions driving an HGV for her employer, haulier and farmer Ieuen Williams.
These included three occasions where she was caught speeding; two occasions where she was caught using a mobile phone while driving an HGV; and one incident involving dangerous driving. Despite the offences, Williams told the TC that Owen was very good at her job and he had not dismissed her from his employment.
However, Jones said high standards are expected from professional drivers and that Owen had “demonstrated a lack of regard to basic road safety”. He added: “While the older offences are relatively stale they are relevant to rebut assertions made by and on behalf of Owen that her appalling driving, which led to the prison sentence, was not an isolated incident of unacceptable driving.”
The TC said any good driver who suffers from a lapse in judgment and exceeds a speed limit or uses a mobile phone in a truck will reflect and learn from their error, something Owen had clearly not done. “After her six months’ disqualification, one would have thought that Owen might have reflected on how she drove HGVs,” the TC stated.
“The circumstances of the driving leading to the prison sentence demonstrate a wholesale disregard for road safety and other road users.”