Bus driver's fine branded inadequate

ROAD safety campaigners have today blasted a £150 fine handed to an Ipswich bus driver for using a mobile phone at the wheel as “woefully inadequate”.

ROAD safety campaigners have today blasted a £150 fine handed to an Ipswich bus driver for using a mobile phone at the wheel as “woefully inadequate”.

Trudy Firman, 39, of Alnesbourn Crescent, was driving the Route 75 First Eastern bus service when she committed the offence at around 3.30pm on January 19 this year.

The matter hit national headlines when The Evening Star exclusively revealed footage on its website of Firman taking both hands off the wheel as she spoke into her phone while negotiating a busy roundabout.

Horrified school pupils who were passengers on the bus took video images of Firman on her phone and their furious parents contacted the Star to highlight the matter.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, Firman pleaded guilty to the offence by post but did not receive any penalty points as the offence was not endorsable at the time.

Diane Ferreira, of road safety organisation Brake, said the level of punishment handed out by magistrates did not match the seriousness of the offence.

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She said: “It is a woefully inadequate sentence.

“This is a scandalous example of a woman who paid complete disregard for the important role she had been entrusted with.

“It is unfortunate the timing of the offence occurred before the mandatory three penalty points were introduced.

“We hope that she has learned her lesson and that other people learn from this.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said Firman was initially investigated on suspicion of careless driving - an offence that potentially carries far higher penalties.

Careless driving comes with a maximum £2,500 fine while disqualification is at the court's discretion and it

can impose penalty points.

The police spokesperson said there was not enough evidence to proceed with the charge.

“On reviewing the file, which included contradictory witness statements, a decision was made that there was not enough evidence to report for careless driving,” she said.

“Therefore a decision was made to report for using a mobile phone whilst driving.”

Firman resigned from her job just days after footage of the incident was placed on the Star's website.

Speaking to the Star following the court case, Firman said she felt treatment of her case has been “over the top” and blamed the Star for the loss of her job.

What do you think of the fine? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

See footage of Firman at the wheel at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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