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Reignac english summary

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publié le 9 février 2011

On Monday 24 July 2006 at around 4:35 pm, a collision involving three HGVs and a caravan took place on the RN10 primary road at Reignac (Charente), killing five people and seriously injuring one.

After two initial accidents on a two-lane section of the RN10, immediately to the north of the Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire bypass, traffic jams formed in both directions. The bypass to the south of the accidents, which is also a dual-carriageway, was hit by tailbacks of around 6 kilometres.
On the right-hand carriageway, in the Bordeaux - Angoulême direction, the last vehicle in the queue was a Ford Transit van converted into a camper van. It was stopped behind a lorry registered in Portugal, which was itself stopped behind a lorry registered in Slovakia.

A French lorry comprising a tractor unit and trailer approach the queue from the Bordeaux direction in the right-hand lane and collided with the back of the queue at 88 km/h.
The force of the impact threw the camper van into the back of the semi-articulated lorry ahead of it. The latter was itself pushed into the back of the HGV in front.
The camper van was crushed between the two HGVs. Its five occupants were killed instantly, while the driver of the lorry that collided with it was injured.

It is highly probable that the main cause of the accident was the driver of the approaching HGV falling asleep. Indeed, this is what the analysis of the lorry’s tachograph reading for the previous 10 kilometres suggests, with repetitive and frequent speed variations that would tend to indicate microsleep episodes.

Road users had not been alerted of the presence of a traffic jam because of the lack of variable message signs (VMS) on the route and the late arrival of the signalling vehicle, which had been at the site of the accident that had initially caused the traffic jam.
Lastly, the technical inspections performed on the HGV that collided with the camper van and the analysis of its tachograph discs revealed several breaches of working time regulations by the driver in the week preceding the accident.

The report therefore formulated five recommendations relating to :
- the training of professional drivers and their familiarisation with the phenomenon of hypovigilance,
- fitting the RN10 with VMS,
- the operator’s intervention procedures in the event of an accident.