Lorry driver jailed after crashing into van while using mobile phone

Shocking video shows texting lorry driver crash into van and seriously injure three people after 42 incidents of bad driving in a four-hour journey as he is jailed for more than three years

  • Derek Holland, 59, committed 42 incidents of ‘poor driving’ on four-hour journey
  • Cab footage shows him use a phone, drive without a seatbelt and peel a banana 
  • He later collided with a prison van near Lewes, East Sussex, injuring three people
  • Holland admitted to causing injury and dangerous driving at Hove Crown Court
  • He was given three-and-a-half year jail sentence and disqualified from driving for 57 months

By William Cole For Mailonline

Published: 17:40, 27 July 2021 | Updated: 18:32, 27 July 2021

This is the moment a lorry driver crashes into the back of a van and seriously injures three people – after getting distracted by his mobile phone.

Derek Holland, 59, was filmed by a camera fitted to the inside of his vehicle’s cab as he ploughed into a security van at almost 60mph.

Seconds earlier he could be seen staring down at his device with only one hand on top of the wheel.

Detectives looking into the footage recorded 42 separate incidents of ‘poor driving’ during Holland’s four-hour journey prior to the collision near Lewes, at about 10.55am on 10 August 2020.

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

This is the moment lorry driver Derek Holland looks up from his mobile phone seconds before crashing into the back of a security van on the A27 near Lewes, East Sussex.

Three people in the van were injured

Lorry driver jailed after crashing into van while using mobile phone

The crash caused the main road to be closed in both directions with emergency services descending on the scene

Sussex Police said that throughout the journey through southern England 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 traffic lights.

As soon as the police vehicle was out of sight, he removed the belt again.

The video ends with Holland distracted and bending forward to send and receive messages before looking up moments before the collision just outside Lewes on the A27.

Holland had driven at speed into the back of a prison security van that had broken down on the dual carriageway just outside Lewes.

A prison van driver, escort officer, and prisoner all sustained serious injuries in the incident.

Lorry driver jailed after crashing into van while using mobile phone

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

He pleaded guilty to all four charges at Hove Crown Court and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment

Lorry driver jailed after crashing into van while using mobile phone

Sussex Police detectives looking into the footage recorded 42 separate incidents of ‘poor driving’ during Holland’s four-hour journey prior to the collision near Lewes, about 10.55am on 10 August 2020.

Pictured: Holland puts on his seatbelt as a police car is seen up ahead

Lorry driver jailed after crashing into van while using mobile phone

Sussex Police said the footage showed an ‘almost persistent’ use of his mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt, and taking both hands off the wheel to peel a banana and to ‘wave at traffic lights’

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.

Lorry driver jailed after crashing into van while using mobile phone

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

‘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.’