Inquiry to decide if Portsmouth coach drivers are fit to keep their jobs

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COACH drivers have been told they could have caused a tragedy by not taking legally required rest breaks.

A public inquiry is being held in Portsmouth’s Guildhall this week after more than a dozen employees of Vision Travel International and its sister company Vision Travel Minibuses were convicted under the Transport Act 1968.

Traffic Commissioner Sarah Bell is considering what action to take against the drivers, who failed to take long enough rest breaks or complete their tachographs properly – a legal requirement to keep a record of time drivers spend behind the wheel.

At the hearing’s first day yesterday she asked them if they had retrained since the offences took place.

Today she will be hearing from the bosses of the two Vision Travel firms, which used to provide coach travel for Pompey fans.

The companies originally faced 132 charges following an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa).

Questioning the firms’ employees first, Miss Bell asked them why they hadn’t followed the rules.

‘You have an obligation before you jump on board a vehicle with passengers,’ she said.

‘The consequences can be tragic.’

The commissioner’s job is to decide whether the drivers should be allowed to hold similar jobs in the future.

Miss Bell will look at all the evidence and then compile a report of her decisions within 28 days of the hearing.

She said: ‘My role is to look at what has happened before to determine whether you remain fit to drive vocationally on the road.’

Several of the drivers told the inquiry that their employers didn’t tell them about the required breaks or about how to properly fill in their tachographs.

Charles Alexander, 61, said he wasn’t told his walk-around check of the coach he was about to drive had to be recorded.

He said: ‘I wasn’t aware at that time that it had to be on the tachograph.

‘I wasn’t aware that it needed to be reported.

‘Not putting it down was habitual over many years.’

The inquiry continues today and on Friday.