‘Lawless’ lorry driver company loses licence

Lorry

LCC has welcomed the Traffic Commissioner’s decision to revoke the licence of the company that hired Barry Meyer, the driver who hit and killed Alan Neve in Holborn in 2013. LCC wrote to the Traffic Commissioner to ask that the company's Operator Licence be revoked and that the managers are not allowed to operate in another company earlier this year.

Alan Drummond has now been disqualified from holding an operator’s licence and Colin Drummond banned from working as a transport manager, effective immediately for an ‘indefinite period’. The ruling follows May’s sentencing of Mr Meyer to three and a half years in jail, when Judge Daniel Worsley addressed the driver as "consistently lawless and selfish in your disregard of the safety of road users" and stated that his "cavalier attitude to driving caused a needless death and righteous horror". 

In July 2013 Meyer drove his 32 ton tipper lorry through a red light at Proctor Street in Holborn, stopping illegally in the yellow hatched area, blocking the junction area for half a minute. He was trying to keep up with a friend in another lorry in front. Cyclists, including the victim Alan Neve, coming through the green light on High Holborn were forced to ride through the blocked traffic. When the traffic began to clear the lorry driver accelerated quickly, running over Mr Neve who was killed instantly. Based on the evidence prepared for the case the judge said that if the driver had kept a proper lookout he "could and should have seen" the cyclist in the left side mirror and for a further four seconds when his cycle helmet would have been visible in front of the driver.

Alan Neve

Mr Meyer already had a string of driving convictions and had been banned several times. After the last ban he re-applied for a car licence but did not bother to apply for his HGV licence to be renewed. He was driving without a licence and without insurance. There is also evidence that Meyer had driven for longer than is legally allowed twice in the ten days before his fatal crash. It is the responsibility of the owners/managers of a transport company to check the driver's hours of work and take action if they drive for too long.

The Traffic Commissioner stated: “From the police evidence I have seen, which includes a transcript of an interview with Alan Drummond, I find that the operator wrongly took on trust Barry Meyer’s assurance that he possessed the correct driving entitlement and never bothered to check whether this was really so, even after Mr Meyer had “forgotten” to bring in his licence for checking, something which should have set off alarm bells. I find that, through their negligence, Alan and Colin Drummond allowed a person to drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle who should clearly not have been allowed to do so. The results were fatal.

“My conclusion is that this licence must therefore be revoked and that the good repute of both Alan and Colin Drummond cannot survive such a basic failure to carry out their responsibilities as operator and transport manager and their refusal to be called to account. 

“I am revoking it under Section 27(1)(a) – the operator has provided no evidence of financial standing; the operator is not of good repute; and the operator lacks professional competence (because his transport manager has lost his repute). The licence is also revoked under Section 27(1)(b) – because the transport manager no longer satisfies the requirement to be of good repute.

“I am also disqualifying Alan Drummond from holding an operator’s licence in the future and disqualifying Colin Drummond from acting as a transport manager again. Neither appears to be interested in engaging with the regulatory authorities to account for their lack of proper management of their drivers. Neither should therefore have any role in the industry in the future.”

In the past Traffic Commissioners have been criticised for only having weak powers and for not removing operating licences from companies with a poor safety record and for allowing drivers who have been banned for serious offences back on the road, so this ruling is very welcome. Sadly, though, it comes too late for Alan Neve and his family. No cyclist should be threatened with the risk of death or serious injury from unsafe lorries or drivers. Officers from the City of London Police Commercial Vehicle Unit, which was set up in May with funding from TfL, found that in its first month of operation, 95 of the 136 lorries stopped had to be taken off the road for non-compliance or safety reasons including lack of insurance, driving without the appropriate licence, with unsafe tyres or an unsafe load, and not accurately recording driver hours.

All but one of the eight fatalities on London’s roads in 2015 have involved a heavy goods vehicle – an unacceptable number. Dangerous drivers, and dangerous vehicles which make it almost impossible for even careful drivers to see cyclists or pedestrians near their vehicle, should never be on London's roads. Along with calling for the redesign of our streets and junctions to create safe space for cycling, we'll continue to campaign for a city free from unsafe lorries and drivers.

 

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