A haulage company whose vehicle was involved in a fatal collision with a cyclist because the driver’s vision was obscured by a table top on the dashboard has now had its licence revoked.
Traffic commissioner Nick Denton said S&J Transport had known before the crash in Birmingham that drivers were obscuring their windscreens with satnavs and toys, but had not done anything about it.
In October 2017, a lorry driven by Robert Bradbury hit cyclist Dr Suzanna Bull after failing to spot her when it turned left, due to the cluttered dashboard.
In December 2019, Bradbury was sentenced to 21 months in prison for causing death by careless driving and S&J Transport was fined £112,500 (CM 19 December 2019).
At a Birmingham public inquiry, director and transport manager Stephen Adams told TC Denton that he had been unaware his driver fitted the table to the dashboard.
However, during an adjournment, PC Mark Crozier from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit of West Midlands police, who was in the public gallery, emailed the TC to say this contradicted evidence given at the trial.
At a reconvened PI in July, barrister Christopher Hopkins admitted that the company had misled the TC and it had been aware that Bradbury drove with a dashboard table in place.
S&J Transport accepted that it failed to put in place a blanket ban and had failed to enforce the removal of tables used by drivers.
Adams was no longer involved in the company, having retired in March 2020 due to ill health, and his sons Brian and David Adams had now been appointed directors.
Hopkins listed a range of changes at the firm, including the tightening up of driver discipline, maintenance standards and driver checks, but the TC said management of drivers had been weak and ineffective.
Two years after the fatal incident a vehicle was found to have a large satnav obscuring the driver’s vision and the vehicle’s windscreen and nearside mirror were in such a state that the mirror was rendered useless.
“Drivers committing very serious drivers’ hours infringements were producing risible excuses equivalent to ‘the dog ate my homework’ which were simply being accepted by the operator,” the TC said.
“The impression I received was very much of a company which simply could not or would not manage its drivers.”
TC Denton found that the company and its transport manager Stephen Adams had lost their repute, he revoked the licence and disqualified the directors Stephen and Jane Adams for five years each.