Lorry driver crashed into prison van after peeling banana and texting at wheel

A lorry driver has been jailed for more than three years for seriously injuring three people in a crash while he was texting.

Derek Holland, 59, was on his phone when he ploughed the large vehicle into a stationary prison van at nearly 60mph on the A27 near Lewes.

It was the devastating culmination of 42 ‘very poor driving’ incidents from Holland in his four-hour journey, which included taking both hands off the wheel to peel a banana.

He also used a replica seatbelt buckle and only put his actual belt on when he pulled up behind a police car.

A serious collision investigator called it ‘the worst case of prolonged distracted driving that I have seen’.

Holland admitted dangerous driving and three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving when he appeared at Hove Crown Court yesterday.

Footage from two cameras inside Holland’s truck revealed ‘almost persistent’ use of his mobile on August 10 last year.

He leaned over his wheel to use it as he careered towards a security van, which had broken down in lane one of the westbound dual carriageway at 10.55am.

Three occupants – the driver, a prison escort and a prisoner – were all injured.

Clips were released by Sussex Police including startling footage of the crash.

In an interview with officers he admitted his behaviour was ‘atrocious’.

Judge David Rennie said Holland had showed remorse and was ‘clearly ashamed’ by his ‘appalling’ driving.

The judge said: ‘You had no consideration for public safety or for the law. Very clearly, there was nobody else to blame other than yourself for causing this collision.

‘When someone drives with their hands off the wheel, using a mobile phone, driving while using their elbows and eating at the same time, it is a continuation of dangerous driving.’

Detective sergeant Rob Baldwin said: ‘It was fortunate that the company had installed cameras on their lorry, which allowed us to examine the driver’s actions. The company fully co-operated with our investigation.

‘We reviewed the video footage from just the morning of the collision and found 42 separate incidents of very poor driving.

‘These were mostly where Holland was interacting with his mobile telephone, but also where he had taken his hands off the steering wheel to eat and was not in proper control of his vehicle.

‘This is the worst case of prolonged distracted driving that I have seen. This was very much aggravated by the fact that Holland had responsibility for driving a large goods vehicle, and he would have been well aware of the risks he was taking. He showed a complete disregard for the safety of other road users.’

Holland, from Seaford, was jailed for three and a half years and banned from driving for 57 months.

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