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La Tinité english summary

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publié le 26 août 2014

At around 1:00 a.m. on 16 December 2010, an articulated lorry travelling towards Italy on the A8 motorway crashed into a semi-trailer transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at the Viaduc de la Neuc viaduct in the municipality of La Trinité in the département of Alpes-Maritimes. Following the impact, LPG escaped from the tanker and ignited, causing a violent fire.
The driver of the HGV at the origin of the crash lost his life. Local residents were evacuated to protect them against any risk of intoxication or explosion. There was significant damage to the viaduct and its infrastructure.

The direct and immediate cause of the accident was the lack of any reaction by the driver of the HGV that caused the accident, who did not slow down or alter his course when approaching the tanker lorry that had stopped in the middle of the lane. This failure to react was probably due to a state of drowsiness.

Two other factors contributed to the collision :
- The inadequate organisation of the journey of the articulated lorry at the origin of the crash, whose nocturnal rest stops were unplanned. This facilitated the build-up of the driver’s fatigue and led to him to seek a suitable parking place, without success.
- The layout, characteristics and signage of areas suitable for use as stopping points throughout the section of the A8 motorway bypassing Nice, whose restricted conditions of use are not apparent, i.e. stops to be used for absolute emergencies only, and which must be followed by a call for emergency assistance if it is impossible to set off again immediately.

The outbreak of fire was due to the safety cut-off on the LPG liquid phase outlet valve, situated at the bottom of the tank, being knocked off in the crash. The design of this device thus failed to meet the objectives set in this field by the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).

The analysis of this accident led BEA-TT to issue two recommendations :
- The first concerns the creation of refuges along the section of the A8 motorway bypassing the Nice conurbation
- The second is designed to ensure the effectiveness of the provisions of the “ADR” agreement, requiring the internal safety cut-offs, which must be fitted to tanker outlets, to be capable of remaining in place if subjected to external stresses.
Furthermore, BEA-TT draws the attention of professional transport federations to the benefit of planning long journeys over unaccustomed routes and of using new GPS equipment that is capable of monitoring vehicle activity for this purpose, in the interests of safety and for the good of the company.