Sausheim english summary
On Tuesday, 11 September 2012 at 8.07, in Sausheim in the Haut-Rhin département, a double-decker coach ensuring a regular service between Poland and the south of France that was on the A36 motorway going in the Belfort direction suddenly veered to the right at the level of exit slip-road No 20, crossed the carriageway and tipped over on to its right-hand side on the side of the motorway.
This slip-road provides access to the Autoport d’Alsace in particular, where the coach was scheduled to drop off two of its 65 passengers.
This accident cost the lives of two of this vehicle’s passengers and caused injuries to 42 others, 13 of whom were seriously injured.
The direct and immediate cause of the accident was the inappropriate reaction of the coach driver who, driving on the main lane of the A36 motorway, veered violently to the right to take the above-mentioned exit slip-road when he was less than 40 metres from its bull-nose.
Three factors contributed to this situation :
- organisation of the trip that did not enable the driver concerned or the accompanying guide to foresee the exit that they would have to make to go to the above-mentioned site. In particular, the coach’s GPS was programmed for Lyon, a destination much further along its route ;
- absence of any advance sign-posting on the A36 motorway in the direction that the coach was going announcing the Autoport d’Alsace, a large rest area for heavy goods vehicles which, located close to a motorway interchange, offers them around 160 parking spaces and a wide range of services ;
- the lower degree of stability of double-decker coaches owing to the high position of their centre of gravity, which means they are liable to sway and makes it easier for them to tip over particularly when, as is the case here, they are not equipped with an electronic stability program (ESP). These systems have been obligatory since 11 July 2014 on all new coaches put into service.
Furthermore, three of the coach’s six emergency exits on the upper deck were locked, preventing any quick evacuation of the passengers on that deck.
In view of the above, BEA-TT recommended that the direction interdépartementale des routes Est (East of France Inter-Département Roads Directorate) should indicate and sign-post the accesses to the Autoport d’Alsace from the A36 and A35 motorways.
What’s more, BEA-TT draws the attention of road transport companies and their drivers to the importance for safety of a thorough preparation of their itineraries that relies on their vehicles’ GPS systems and identifies, and thus makes it possible to anticipate, any difficulties that may be encountered and the halts that they must make.
Lastly, BEA-TT reminds the passenger road transport companies of the overriding need for the safety of their passengers to maintain, in all circumstances, all of their vehicles’ emergency exits operational and to regularly check their satisfactory operation.