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BEA-TT
Bureau d’Enquêtes sur les Accidents de Transport Terrestre

Aix-en-Provence english summary

publié le 26 août 2014

At around 1:15 p.m. on Friday 9 July 2010, a refrigerated lorry travelling on the RD9 minor road in the Vitrolles – Aix-en-Provence direction, collided with a queue of vehicles in a traffic jam around the La Pioline designated development zone in Aix-en-Provence (Bouche-du-Rhône).
The pile-up involved two heavy goods vehicles, four light vehicles and a van.
Three people were killed, one person was seriously injured and two people were slightly hurt.

The cause of this accident was the lack of reaction by the driver of the refrigerated lorry, who did not slow down on the approach to the traffic jam queue, which was highly visible, and who made no attempt to brake or avoid the stationary vehicles, even at the last instant.

The cause of this failure to react cannot be determined with certainty. However, it would seem that the hypothesis of hypo-vigilance can be discarded because the driver had just begun his delivery round a few minutes earlier. Similarly, the hypothesis of the driver suddenly being taken ill would also seem unlikely, given the driver’s age, his lack of a known medical history and the absence of clues revealed by the post-mortem examinations.
Under these conditions, inattention linked to the performance of an ancillary task would seem to be the most probable cause of the complete lack of any reaction by the driver concerned ; however, he would need to have taken his eyes off the road for a good ten seconds or so in order to fail to notice the traffic jam.
This lack of attention may have been caused by the operation of a smartphone ; however, it has been impossible to confirm this hypothesis because once switched on, this type of device remains permanently connected to the Internet, without a user being necessarily in the process of using it.

The BEA-TT thus asks the public authorities to continue their efforts to raise users’ awareness of the dangers due to the presence of mobile telephones near drivers, by reminding them that consulting text messages, multimedia content, e-mails or websites is wholly incompatible with driving.