Latest coach crash tragedy underlines need for safety improvements

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Latest coach crash tragedy underlines need for safety improvements

14th March 2012

The horrifying news that 22 children are among the 28 casualties in the latest European coach tragedy has underlined the urgent need for improvements in bus safety.

Tuesday night’s incident, in which 24 children were also injured in a tunnel crash near Sierre, close to Switzerland’s border with Italy, occurred only three weeks after a crash in Northern France involving British schoolchildren, which left one teacher dead and 27 adults and children injured.

“Whilst it might appear that there has been a sudden surge in the number of coach crashes in Europe, the unsettling reality is that there are simply a very high number of such incidents,” said Katherine Allen, head of the Travel and International Litigation department at Fentons Solicitors LLP. “The loss of life in this latest case is absolutely tragic, and our immediate thoughts have to go out to the families of those who have been killed or left seriously injured.

“Now is not the time to start pointing the finger of blame, but the people most affected by this incident will quite rightly be demanding answers as to what happened, and how it was allowed to happen,” said Katherine, a partner with the firm. “For years now, we have seen time and again the outcry when there is such a tragic incident. But despite numerous safety campaigns and vows to address the problem, we are still seeing these horrific incidents occur.”

Restrictions on the number of hours drivers are allowed to work before requiring a rest, the compulsory wearing of seat belts and stricter speed limits have all been introduced in recent years in an effort to curb the number of serious and fatal coach crashes.

“As with the French crash from last month, the initial reports seem to be suggesting that this latest terrible incident could be a result of driver error,” said Katherine. “But very few of the safety initiatives already introduced concentrate on this factor.

“Whilst we await the outcome of the official investigation, we must again stress the importance of improving the safety of buses and coaches across Europe, and work to reduce the totally avoidable loss of life.”

Katherine is the Secretary of the Pan-European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers (PEOPIL) Road Traffic Accident European Exchange Group, and is Administrative Council Member and Assistant Secretary of the European Brain Injury Society (EBIS).

Read more at: BBC News