THE PARENTS of a Leamington youngster who died in a bus crash have welcomed moves to impose tighter restrictions on bus drivers.
Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was on the top deck of the bus when it crashed into Sainsbury’s supermarket in Coventry city centre. He died at the scene.
Driver of the double decker, Kailash Chander suffers from dementia and was deemed unfit to stand trial. Instead a trial of the facts – to establish what happened – was held.
The former Leamington mayor, who was 77 at the time, was ruled to have been driving dangerously when the bus crashed in Trinity Street in 2015.
Pedestrian Dora Hancox, aged 76, was hit by the bus as it careered towards the supermarket, she also died at the scene.
Mr Chander had retired from bus driving at 65 but was taken on as a casual driver.
But he had worked an average of 75 hours a week in the three weeks leading to the tragic crash.
He hit the accelerator instead of the brake which sent the bus careering into the back of another bus and into the shop.
Bus operator Stagecoach Midlands pleaded guilty to health and safety offences, including failure to ensure safety of the public and employees in allowing Mr Chander to work so many hours despite warnings about his driving.
Following their son’s death, the family of St Anthony’s Catholic School pupil Rowan joined forces with Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western to call for a cap on the hours bus drivers can work.
They want bus drivers hours limited to 56 per week and no more than 90 over a fortnight.
And they recently met with the transport minister Chris Grayling to discuss proposed changes.
While there has been no promises to change the law, the family says the meeting went well and is a step in the right direction.
A family spokesman said: “We strongly feel there should be a change to the current law. If this proposal had been in place in October 2015, then perhaps our beautiful boy Rowan and the pedestrian, Dora Hancox, who were both killed in this tragic bus crash, would be alive today.
“We were pleased to meet with the transport minister to discuss Rowan’s Law. It was a productive meeting and while the minister did not commit to change the law at this time, we will continue to make the argument that there should be tighter restrictions on bus drivers’ hours.
“We look forward to working with the minister and others on this going forward.”
And Mr Western said changes must be made to the law.
He added: “I was shocked to hear of the case with the Coventry bus crash a few years ago and have been working with Rowan’s family since last year on this issue. Our laws around working hours for local bus drivers clearly aren’t keeping the public safe and it’s time to legislate to make sure another two people aren’t killed the next time a bus driver is asked to work too many hours than is safe.”