Breaking Lewes Sussex

Texting lorry driver jailed after crashing into back of Prison Custody Van on A27

 

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This shocking video shows the moment a lorry driver – distracted by his mobile phone – crashes into the back of a van on the A27, seriously injuring three people.

The footage was captured by two cameras fitted to the vehicle driven by Derek Holland, 59, of Sutton Avenue, Seaford.

It was reviewed by detectives, who recorded 42 separate incidents of poor driving during his four-hour journey prior to the collision near Lewes, about 10.55am on 10 August 2020.

This included almost persistent use of his mobile phone while not wearing a seatbelt, and taking both hands off the wheel to peel a banana and to wave at traffic lights.

Throughout the journey, he used a replica seatbelt buckle in the socket to prevent the alarm from activating, and only put his actual seatbelt on when he pulled up behind a police car at a set of traffic lights. As soon as the police vehicle was out of sight, he removed the belt again.

The collision involved a security van which had broken down in lane one of the westbound dual carriageway. The three occupants – the driver, a prison escort and a prisoner, all sustained injuries.

Holland was subsequently arrested and charged with dangerous driving, and three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

In interview, he admitted his behaviour was “atrocious”.

Holland pleaded guilty to all four charges and appeared before Hove Crown Court on Tuesday 27 July, where he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

He was also disqualified from driving for 57 months and must take an extended re-test if he wishes to drive again.

His Honour Judge Rennie gave Holland credit for his guilty plea, and said he had showed remorse and was “clearly ashamed” by his “appalling” manner of driving.

He added: “You had no consideration for public safety or for the law. Very clearly, there was nobody else to blame other than yourself for causing this collision. When someone drives with their hands off the wheel, using a mobile phone, driving while using their elbows and eating at the same time, it is a continuation of dangerous driving, and this case included some 42 incidents.”

Detective Sergeant Rob Baldwin, of the Serious Collision Investigations Unit, said: “It was fortunate that the company had installed cameras on their lorry, which allowed us to examine the driver’s actions. The company fully co-operated with our investigation.

“We reviewed the video footage from just the morning of the collision, and found 42 separate incidents of very poor driving. These were mostly where Holland was interacting with his mobile telephone, but also where he had taken his hands off of the steering wheel to eat, and was not in proper control of his vehicle.

“This is the worst case of prolonged distracted driving that I have seen. This was very much aggravated by the fact that Holland had responsibility for driving a large goods vehicle, and he would have been well aware of the risks he was taking. He showed a complete disregard for the safety of other road users.

“We strongly advise drivers not to engage with any activity that distracts them from the driving task – this could still lead to an offence of not being in proper control of a vehicle. Even if a device is not being held in the hand, distracted driving can lead to devastating consequences and will likely result in a prosecution for dangerous or careless driving, as this case demonstrates.”