Coach firm drivers ran red lights and broke speed limit

A Crawley coach company which carries out school runs had its licence suspended for running red lights and breaking speed limits.

Crawley Luxury Coaches will not operate from January 1 to January 7 2013 after a public inquiry revealed that 29 of the company’s drivers committed 39 traffic offences between 2003 and 2012, including vehicles travelling 47mph in a 30mph zone.

A public inquiry on November 15 heard that J and M Brown Coaches Ltd - trading as Crawley Luxury Coaches - failed to provide police with the identity of offending drivers and failed to notify convictions to the traffic commissioner.

Instead, the company repeatedly requested photographic evidence to help identify drivers.

Co-director of the company Darren Brown admitted that requests for the identity of drivers had not been a priority for him.

Nicholas Denton, traffic commissioner for London and the South East, asked Mr Brown whether he would have been happy for his children to travel on coaches exceeding the speed limit and going through red lights. He replied that he would not.

A spokesperson for Crawley Luxury Coaches said: “Whilst saddened by the fact that it was felt necessary to call the company to public inquiry in relation to matters which occurred years ago in the majority of cases, the directors have sought to treat the fact of the inquiry and its outcome as constructively as possible.”

During a preliminary hearing, the company’s legal representatives argued that a public inquiry was not needed because measures had been taken to improve the response to requests from the police.

Mr Denton disallowed the request on the grounds that the company had received four convictions for failing to supply the police with driver identification since 2010, and two further prosecutions were pending.

The Crawley Luxury Coaches spokesperson added: “The evidence at the inquiry showed that the occasions on which a road traffic infringement occurred was less than one in 2,000 journeys.

“The Inquiry related principally to inadequacies in the log systems the company had in place to allow management to identify drivers.

“The company has reviewed and updated the way in which it records the drivers of its vehicles and is confident that robust steps have been taken to ensure that there will be no repetition of the events that lead to the recent Inquiry.

“All the company’s staff have been reminded of the critical importance of road safety and have been informed that any further infringements will be the subject of a full disciplinary process.”

West Sussex County Council is putting arrangements in place to ensure that all of the school coach contracts are run by other operators during the period of the suspension.

Crawley Luxury Coaches co-director and transport manager David Brown (Darren Brown’s father) was disqualified from working as a transport manager for three months.

The company has made commitments that all drivers will be sent on a speed awareness course by March 31 2013 and a formal procedure for dealing with drivers who commit offences will be introduced by January 31 2013.