Bus driver appears in court

A BUS driver, accused of driving without due care and attention when his vehicle collided with another bus, has begun his trial.

Tom Potter

A BUS driver, accused of driving without due care and attention when his vehicle collided with another bus, has begun his trial.

Phillip Grimes was involved in a crash between his singledecker and a double-decker bus, driven by James McCullar, on April 21 last year.

The 51-year-old from Geneva Road, Ipswich, appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

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Sandra Dyer, prosecuting, told the court how Grimes allegedly failed to slow down and was travelling partially in the wrong lane when the two buses approached a bend in the road from opposite directions.

Mr McCullar gave evidence at the trial, saying: “As I came out of the bend I had the shock of my life.

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“The bus was at least two or three feet on my side of the road and I believe it was going at 35 to 40mph.

“I knew there was going to be an accident so I stopped with my wheels touching the grass verge.

“It was 100 percent the other driver's fault.”

Mr McCullar was asked by defence solicitor Zaman Choudhury why he didn't sound his horn before the impact. Mr McCullar answered: “I only had time to prepare for the crash.”

The accident happened at the Woodlands Road and Main Road crossroads on the B1080 at Freston and left Mr McCullar in hospital with leg injuries.

Mr McCullar was driving a school service bus, run by Ipswich Buses, on its way to Holbrook High School to collect pupils when the crash happened.

Grimes was behind the wheel of a Far East Travel bus which was returning from Shotley. Neither bus had passengers on board at the time.

The court also heard from Pc Jonathan Rogers, the collision investigation specialist who arrived on the scene shortly after the accident. He said: “The first thing I noticed was that there were no pre-impact marks on the road. This would indicate the driver did not brake sufficiently to lock the wheels.

“One of the double-decker's tyres also had a scuff mark which indicted the vehicle had been pushed backwards into the curb. When two objects collide, the one with the most momentum tends to push the other one.”

Mr Choudhury then produced a vehicle activity report from a satellite tracker on board the bus driven by Grimes at the time of the accident. The report showed that Grimes was travelling at 23mph three minutes before the collision.

Pc Rogers said: “How close it was to the time of the collision is dependent on a numerous factors.

“Even in the space of 200m there is considerable time for a driver to change their speed. I was not present in the vehicle but I would expect a reasonable and competent driver to slow down in that situation.”

The trial continues on April 15.

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