Changes to licensing and DVLA medical guidelines needed to avoid another Glasgow bin lorry crash

There needs to be changes to driver licensing legislation and DVLA medical guidelines if a repeat of Glasgow's fatal refuse-truck accident last year is to be avoided, the sheriff that oversaw the Fatal Accident Investigation has said.

Sheriff John Beckett QC outlined eight “reasonable precautions” which, if taken, could have prevented the accident that saw six people killed by the out of control HGV nearly a year ago. He also made 19 recommendations to a series of regulatory bodies to stop it happening again.

His report, released today (7 December), followed a five-week hearing into the incident earlier this year. Its predominant finding being that the incident could have been avoided if the driver, Harry Clarke, had not lied about his medical history prior to passing out at the wheel on 22 December last year - a finding that prompted Backhouse Jones to emphasise the importance of operators having a health disclosure clause in drivers' contracts.

Beckett's recommendations include calling on local authorities to consider retrofitting refuse vehicles with advanced emergency braking systems (AEBS).

He also called on the DVLA to address whether its section on the loss of consciousness/altered awareness in its “At a glance” guide is clear enough to medicalprofessionals who have to make professional judgements on the information. The report also questions if it gives enough weight to early symptoms of illnesses that could cause blackout further down the line.

Beckett also suggested that the secretary of state for transport should consider a legislative change around the information the DVLA is provided with when making fitness to driver licensing decisions.

Although it was not included in the sheriff’s official recommendations, he also made a case for annual checks on drivers’ health, especially for older drivers.

He said: “From the age of 45, a group-2 licence only has to be renewed every five years and much could change in a driver’s state of health in that time. Employers ought to be alert to that.” 

The General Medical Council recently issued draft guidelines to doctors informing them they had a duty to report concerns in regards a driver's health to the DVLA.

Image: Press Association

Driver fined for M20 collision

Kent Police have fined the driver of a Poland-registered HGV more than £1,000 after a car collided with his vehicle, which was parked on an M20 slip road.

The car driver was taken to hospital after crashing into the lorry on the motorway slip road at junction 13 in Folkestone on
19 November. The road was blocked for several hours, causing rush-hour delays.

The HGV driver was moved to Stop 24 services, where he was issued with three fines totalling £1,080. It included £500 for leaving his vehicle in a dangerous position, £500 for tachograph offences and £80 to have a clamp released.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “There were injuries to the driver of the car, a man in his 50s. He suffered head injuries and was taken as a priority to William Harvey Hospital.

“His head injuries needed further checks and he was on a backboard and stretcher for other suspected injuries.”

The police are working with Highways England to educate haulage companies and drivers about the dangers of parking illegally on hard shoulders and slip roads. The problem is said to be mounting despite Operation Stack not being in place.

“When we speak to HGV drivers, we try to educate them about the dangers that parking at these locations pose to themselves and other motorists,” said superintendent Ian Hall.

“If they fail to move on or we find repeat offenders, we look at escalating the matter to a criminal offence where tickets are issued and/or lorries are immobilised.

“Operators and drivers are expected to find adequate, safe and appropriate places to park their vehicles when drivers require rest breaks.”