Bus driver who overtook horse on blind bend is no longer in his job

  • A school bus driver who overtook a horse and rider on a blind bend, then passed them at speed while sounding his horn, is no longer in his job.

    Felicity Armstrong reported both incidents, on two legs of the bus’s journey, on 20 January, to the British Horse Society, Northumberland County Council (NCC) and the police. Three days later, the council replied with the update.

    Felicity told H&H she hopes the outcome will make people realise reporting incidents is worth it.

    “I didn’t have camera footage, I couldn’t even tell them if it was a man or a woman driving,” she said. “All I could tell them was the time, route, location and description of the vehicle. But that was enough information to identify the driver.”

    Felicity had taken her 12-year-old appaloosa mare Holly for an “out and back” ride on Friday afternoon, having been waiting for the icy roads to become safe.

    “I had all my high-vis on and lights; I do everything to make myself safe,” she said. “As I came to a bend on the road at the top of the hill, I waved at the bus driver to stay behind me; there was a bridleway I was going to get into to get out of his way but he just refused and overtook me on the bend, he couldn’t see round it. There could have been a cyclist or a horse coming – there’s a yard with a field near there and they walk horses on the road – and if my horse wasn’t marvellous in traffic, it could have been a different story.”

    Felicity and Holly were then unlucky enough to meet the same driver again, as both had turned round and were heading back.

    “I was on a straight road with a clear view,” she said. “This time, the issue wasn’t that he couldn’t see, it was his speed. I didn’t know it was him but could hear it was a large vehicle so I put my arm out and asked him to slow down. But he just kept going, and tooted his horn. I thought ‘Enough. I’m done, absolutely done with his behaviour. I might have let it go the first time but the fact he passed again, and tooted his horn, tipped me over the edge.”

    It is understood this is not the first concern raised about this driver; Felicity said she had been “nearly been forced off the road” by him while she was driving her car.

    “It took him threatening my horse to take action,” she said. “Other liveries at my yard have also said they’ve had similar, and he’s driving a bus full of children, for heaven’s sake. If my children had been travelling on that bus, I’d be furious.”

    Felicity posted about the incident on the Pass Wide and Slow Facebook group to spread the word, as she is full of praise for the safety campaign, and also praised the British Horse Society for its road safety work, including with NCC.

    “On the same ride, I met a gritter driver from the same council,” she said. “He saw me and stopped, waited and watched. I gave him a big thumbs up and said thank you and he did the same back and said no problem. I also emailed the council about him to say thank you so much as he was lovely.”

    Felicity has also reported incidents to Northumbria Police, which she said has also responded in a very positive manner.

    “This just goes to show, it is worth reporting things,” she said. “I’ve been blown away by this response; I didn’t expect him to get sacked but maybe it’s a culmination of things.”

    An NCC spokesman told H&H: “The safety of all road users is of paramount importance, and our huge network of rural roads means there are more horses, cyclists, walkers and farm vehicles on them than in more urban areas.

    “While school bus drivers are not employed directly by the county council they are nevertheless subject to a strict code of conduct and where their behaviour falls below acceptable standards we will not hesitate in taking appropriate action to address.

    “All county council drivers are trained to recognise risks and respect other road users and we are pleased to hear this positive feedback.”

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