One of the UK’s worst road accidents that killed eight Indians last year has prompted calls from a road charity to block a legal loophole which keeps employers in the dark about dangerous drivers.
The road safety charity Brake called on the government to urgently address the issue of transport companies not being automatically told about a driver whose driving licence has been revoked.
Two truck drivers, Ryszard Masierak and David Wagstaff, were jailed last month for causing the deaths of Nottingham-based Keralite minibus driver Cyriac Joseph and seven of his passengers – all Indians – in August 2017.
The 52-year-old had been hired to drive his passengers from Nottingham to London to join a European holiday tour group when they met with the fatal accident.
In court it emerged that Masierak’s licence had been revoked in July 2017 but his employer, AIM Logistics, had not been informed.
“This crash has had a truly devastating impact and laid bare the loophole in which employers are not automatically informed if their drivers lose their licence,” Brake said in a statement.
“It is only right that we learn from such tragedies and prevent other families from suffering a similar fate, and so we call on the government to urgently look into this matter,” it said.
AIM Logistics said Masierak’s licence had been checked as part of its regular procedures in June 2017.
However, it said neither the employee nor the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) informed the firm that the licence was revoked on July 20, more than a month before the crash.
Before his next company-scheduled check, he went on to stop on the inside lane of the M1 highway while twice the drink-drive limit, which resulted in the crash involving the minibus and a second truck, being driven by Wagstaff.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said the current rule relied upon the “honesty of the driver”.
Road safety manager Nick Lloyd said: “It does seem to be a loophole that could allow drivers to avoid losing their driving job after a ban because they don’t tell their boss, at least until an organisation does its regular online licence check”.
The Department for Transport said the additional regulation would be unnecessary and burdensome on small businesses and said employers should encourage its staff to notify them of any change in their driving status.
A spokesperson said: “This is a tragic case and our sympathies are with the friends and families of the eight victims involved”.
Masierak was jailed for 14 years for causing death by dangerous driving, while Wagstaff was sentenced to 40 months in prison after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
Judge Francis Sheridan at Aylesbury Crown Court described the crash as the most serious in the UK for more than 26 years, for which the Masierak had shown “no remorse”.
“The catastrophic and tragic collision was caused by both the individuals. We lost a great father, loving husband and a very good friend,” a family spokesperson for Cyriac Joseph’s family said outside the courtroom.
The other victims in Josephs minibus were from Nottinghams Malayali community and their relatives.
The entire group was on its way to London to catch a bus to Disneyland Paris when their vehicle crashed with the trucks near Newport Pagnell in southern England.