(l-r) Chris Whalley (Thomas Hardie Commercials), Jon Paul Bretherton (Bretherton’s) and Andy Waddington (Spillard Safety Systems)

A Ribble Valley coach firm has become one of the first transport operators in the UK to install new technology that protects passengers, drivers, cyclists, and the public.

Bretherton’s Gold Line Tours, which has been a family-run company since 1987, has equipped its latest 53-seat Volvo tri-axle 990 coach with Spillard Safety Systems’ innovative Human Detection System (HDS).

The equipment has been developed over the last two years and is now being rolled out across the bus and coach sector, delivering an additional measure that is proven to prevent accidents and thus reducing injuries and saving lives.

Launched in the middle of last year, the HDS has been fitted to the side, front and back of the vehicle and intelligently detects only the shape of a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist within 20 meters – all in real time.


Once detected, an audio alert is delivered to the driver, as well as clearly visualising the distance by measurement and colour codes displayed on the cab monitor.

The HDS will help bus and coach operators and, importantly, ensures they are compliant with The Direct Vision Standard introduced by the Mayor of London in March 2021.

“We always have one eye on new things coming out that can improve the experience and safety of our passengers,” explained Jon Paul, the third-generation family owner of Bretherton’s Gold Line Tours.

“Our long-standing relationship with Thomas Hardie Commercials brought the Human Detection System to our attention and we decided that we’d fit it to our latest vehicle to see what difference it makes.”

He continued: “First and foremost, it has eliminated all blind spots which is massive for us – especially in crowded towns and cities. The fact it also only picks up the human shape is also a major benefit as our driver knows if he gets an alert he needs to act.

“There was a bit of resistance at first, like there is with all types of change. However, every driver who has used it would happily say they prefer to drive the Volvo 9900 over other ones in our fleet. That includes myself, as I still drive on some of the tours – I’ve been very impressed.”

Bretherton’s Gold Line Tours operates a fleet of eight vehicles, ranging from a 16-seater minibus to the £300,000+, 13 metre Volvo 9900.

Employing 10 people, the company has emerged from the shackles of Covid and expects to go past its pre-pandemic turnover later this year as it adds more destinations to its UK and European portfolio.

Jon Paul went on to add: “There is no doubt that we will add the Human Detection System to any new vehicle that we purchase going forward. In addition to increasing safety and giving driver’s greater visual awareness, the platform can also be used to prove responsibility if an incident does occur.

“This can help with reducing insurance premiums and can avoid expensive pay-outs if you have been wrongly accused of an accident.”

Thomas Hardie Commercials has worked with Spillard Safety Systems for 15 years, offering the Wolverhampton firm’s range of solutions to its growing client base in the North West.

Chris Whalley, Frontline Truck and Bus Manager at Thomas Hardie Commercials, added his support: “The Human Detection System is extremely popular in the commercial vehicle marketplace and now we’re starting to see it take off in the bus and coach sector.

“We don’t just supply vehicles; we always try to add that extra bit of value to the customer. That is why we’re continually looking at new technology and we knew the HDS would be something Jon Paul at Bretherton’s Gold Line Tours would be keen to test.

“The retrospective fitting was easy to do and, so far, the company and the drivers have been impressed with the ease-of-use and the view the system gives you.”

Pete Spillard, Managing Director of Spillard Safety Systems, concluded: “It is great to see Bretherton’s Gold Line Tours embrace our Human Detection System and, importantly, enjoy such a positive experience.

“Like with all new products, we are listening to and building in feedback to make it even better for existing and new users.”