Texting lorry driver jailed after he crashed into prison van

A lorry driver has been jailed for more than three years for an “appalling” act of dangerous driving that saw him seriously injure three people on a major road. Derek Holland crashed his vehicle into the back of a prison van on the A27 in East Sussex, while using his phone. Video footage was captured by two cameras fitted to the lorry driven by 59-year-old Holland, of Sutton Avenue in Seaford, according to SussexLive.

Holland admitted to police his behaviour was “atrocious” during the four-hour journey prior to the crash near Lewes. Police recorded 42 incidents of poor driving ahead of the crash, which took place shortly before 11am on August 10 2020. His was persistently using his mobile phone, did not wear a seatbelt, and let go of the steering wheel to peel a banana.

He also used a fake seatbelt buckle in the socket to silence the alarm, and only put on his actual seatbelt when he pulled up behind a police car at traffic lights – before removing it again when the police vehicle was out of sight.

Derek Holland

The crash involved a broken-down prison van on the westbound carriageway. The driver, a prison escort and a prisoner were injured. Holland was arrested and charged with dangerous driving, as well as three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Holland was jailed for three-and-a-half years at Hove Crown Court on Tuesday (July 27) after pleading guilty to all charges. 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.

Texting lorry driver jailed after he crashed into prison vanThe driver of the prison van, a prison escort and a prisoner, all sustained injuries

“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.” Sussex Police shared video footage of the incident on Twitter, saying: “We’ve released this video to highlight the significant implications of driving while using a mobile phone, after the driver was jailed.” Detective Sergeant Rob Baldwin, of Sussex Police’s 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.”

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