Bus driver on phone drove double decker into bridge

Ross Ralph drove the double decker under a low bridge. Picture: Cascade
Ross Ralph drove the double decker under a low bridge. Picture: Cascade
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A bus driver who forgot he was driving a 13 foot high double decker bus tried to drive it under an 11 foot 3” high bridge and wrote off the £47,000 vehicle.

Ross Ralph, 35, was filmed on the Stagecoach CCTV system talking on his mobile phone for 12 seconds as the service bus from Croy to Inverness ploughed into the railway bridge parapet on Culloden Road, near Balloch on April 4 this year.

A passenger on the upper deck had a lucky escape as the roof crumpled under the impact and emerged shaken but unhurt, Inverness Sheriff Court heard yesterday.

Sheriff Margaret Neilson heard that Ralph, of 53 Bruce Avenue, Inverness was sacked after the incident by the bus company.

However he kept his licence when he admitted driving carelessly while talking on a mobile phone, causing the bus to collide with the bridge and the roof to collapse.

Fiscal depute Laura Ryan told the court that the bridge had a height restriction of 11’3” and the bus was 13 foot high.

“A passenger was upstairs on the bus as it approached the bridge and was surprised because it was normally a single decker on that route.

“The CCTV on the bus filmed Ross Ralph with headphones on and talking on his mobile phone for 12 seconds beforehand and he only reacted after the collision.

“He was obviously distracted by being on his mobile phone at the time. Fortunately no-one was injured. There were stickers on the bus reminding the driver of the height of the vehicle. The cost of replacing the bus was £47,000.”

Defence lawyer John MacColl told the court that the incident had resulted in his client’s dismissal by Stagecoach but he had secured other employment as a driver.

“He has been driving since 1988 without coming to the attention of the police or having any acccidents. He had been working that day doing the Cromarty route on the double decker bus and had done two journeys before taking over the Croy route.

“No-one at Stagecoach told him to change vehicle. Normally he would have been driving a single decker on that route and in his own mind he was driving a vehicle of that type.

“It was a case of inattention on his part.”

Sheriff Neilson fined Ralph £500 and imposed eight penalty points on his licence.