Family’s outrage over death of great-grandmother in Sheffield city centre

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Relatives of a pensioner killed after being struck by a bus have criticised a scheme which rewards drivers for the smoothness of their journeys.

David Cameron, aged 59, was travelling at 14mph on Angel Street in Sheffield city centre when he hit 74-year-old Sheila Bowling.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Cameron, who worked for First, failed to brake or swerve to avoid the OAP.

He told police that First operates a dashboard traffic lights-style system, using DriveGreen technology, where drivers who achieve the most ‘green’ lights are rewarded.

Red and amber lights are triggered by sharp braking or jerking the steering wheel.

Cameron, of Spring Close Mount, Gleadless Valley, said the firm awarded a weekly £50 top prize.

Cameron told officers: “People try to win it for a bit of competition and a bit of bragging rights.”

He was handed a 12-month community order, 100 hours of unpaid work and a one-year driving ban after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

A family spokesman said: “First are playing Russian Roulette with the public. I believe drivers are going to alter the way they think behind the wheel because of this bonus scheme.

“My mother was virtually on the kerb. She should never have been hit by the bus. We are all gobsmacked at this bonus system revelation.”

Gordon Stables, prosecuting, said CCTV evidence and scientific calculations showed if the driver had hit the brakes half a second earlier the bus would not have hit Mrs Bowling.

Judge Robert Moore gave no opinion on the role played by the traffic light system used by First, but said: “The system that his bus company employs encourages both gradual acceleration and deceleration and resistance as far as possible from turning the steering wheel fiercely.

“It may have been possible had he used greater steering to avoid the lady who was in the last two metres of crossing this road. He missed the opportunity to avoid a collision by 0.5 of a second.

“There was a clear error of judgment in that respect.”

He called for a pedestrian crossing on the road.

David James, representing Cameron, said he had been a bus driver for 32 years with an unblemished record but had been lost his job and was now on benefits.

A spokesman for First said: “The safety of our customers, other road users and staff is a priority at First.

“We work hard to deliver continuous improvement in safe driving skills and training for our staff as well as using innovative technical developments.

“DriveGreen technology measures technique and supports safe driving and comfortable travel for our customers.”

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