Rouen english summary
At around 11:25 a.m. on Friday 5 February 2010, a coach rammed into the “Pierre Corneille” underpass with limited clearance (passage souterrain à gabarit réduit - PSGR) in Rouen, because the height of the coach exceeded the available clearance.
One person was seriously injured and six others were slightly injured in the accident. The rest of the 32 passengers had to be treated for shock. Furthermore, major material damage was recorded.
The immediate cause of the accident was the error of judgement committed by the coach driver, who drove into an underpass that was lower than the height of her vehicle.
This error of judgement was linked to the coach driver’s failure to concentrate on her driving duties, which could be attributed to lack of concentration on her part. This could be due to her having major personal problems, exhibiting chronically inadequate driving behaviour from a safety standpoint and wearing headphones.
Moreover, although the company that employs this driver had been informed about certain recurrent problems, it had failed to take adequate steps to correct these driving deficiencies and behavioural problems. In this case, there was also an organisational cause that may have played a role in the driver’s behaviour at the time of the accident.
Furthermore, three factors coincided to increase the severity of this accident :
The high speed of the coach (50 to 55 km/h at the time of the impact), without any prior braking
The lack of a clearance detection gantry on the approach to the underpass, which would certainly have prompted the driver to brake and could have reduced the intensity of the impact or have even prevented the accident.
The lack of seatbelts in the coach, which were not compulsory, given the date on which it was first brought into service.
Six recommendations were formulated, concerning :
The signalling of underpasses with limited clearance in the city of Rouen
The implementation of a clearance detection system at the entrance to underpasses with limited clearance
Vocational training and the correction of the driving deficiencies of salaried drivers in passenger road transportation companies
The use of headphones by the driver of a passenger road transportation vehicle while driving.