Pollestres english summary
At 14:05 on 5 March 2009 a coach carrying 29 students and 4 accompanying adults, which was stopped on the hard shoulder of the A9 motorway on the Spain-France carriageway near the village of Pollestres (66), was hit in the rear by a heavy goods vehicle.
1 coach passenger died and 6 were injured, 2 seriously. The lorry driver was also injured and trapped in the cab of his vehicle.
The immediate cause of the accident was that a lorry encroaching on the hard shoulder crashed into a coach that was stationary on the hard shoulder.
The unusual route of the lorry, encroaching on the hard shoulder, appeared to be linked to two causal factors :
the lorry driver’s inattention (or performing another task) causing the lorry to deviate from its lane and onto the hard shoulder ;
driving in convoy without sufficient distance between vehicles, which might have concealed the presence of the coach on the hard shoulder from the driver.
The coach’s ill-timed stop on the hard shoulder appeared linked to four causal factors :
faulty closure of a baggage hold door when the bus set-off, not detected by the central locking system ;
the coach driver’s incomplete knowledge, it being her first trip with this type of coach ;
the driver’s inadequate perception of the risks involved in stopping on the hard shoulder ;
the oversized nature of the hard shoulder at the place where the coach was stopped, likely to create an impression of safety.
BEA-TT issued 3 recommendations concerning risks relating to untimely stops on the hard shoulder, failure to comply with stopping distances and coach equipment.
In addition, BEA-TT encourages the public authorities to follow current experiments on systems aimed at preventing people from driving on the hard shoulder and to draw any conclusions from them ; it also invited hauliers to equip their articulated lorries with on-board safety systems.