Investigators: Bus was speeding before fatal eastern Finland crash

The ongoing investigation into last Friday’s fatal bus crash in Eastern Finland has found that the vehicle was speeding prior to the accident that claimed four lives.

The Finnish Safety Investigation Authority (Otke) says that the ongoing investigation into last Friday’s fatal bus cras h in Eastern Finland that claimed four lives has found that the bus was travelling at very high speeds prior to the accident. The bus driver was ascending a ramp in Kuopio when he lost control and ploughed through five cars before plunging off an overpass and landed on a train track below the roadway.

The bus was travelling at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour, according to initial information from Otke.

”According to initial information, the speed of the bus was closer to highway speed than what it should have been near an intersection, which is between 0 to 20 kilometres per hour. But the bus was travelling at speeds of close to 100 kilometres per hour,” says Sakari Lauriala,Otke's head of communications.

According to tabloid paper Ilta-Sanomat, the speed limit at the end of the ramp where the motorway turns into an urban area is 50 kilometres per hour. The paper, based on an interview with an expert, speculated that the driver may have confused the brake pedal with the gas pedal.

Changing speeds

The Safety Investigation Authority will continue investigating the crash by gathering further information and analysing data from the bus’s tachograph, the device which records the vehicle’s speed and distance together with the driver’s activity.

The technical investigation of the scene of the crash in Kuopio was completed over the weekend. According to Lauriala, researchers have paid special attention to "ergonomic factors in the driver's working space".

”Ergonomic factors mean the practicality and safety of the work space, as well as potential risk factors relating to the pedals, for example,” says Lauriala.

Mikko Västilä, development manager for Trafi, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, says that what the tachograph reveals will likely be very useful in the ongoing investigation.

”The tachograph provides information about situations where it’s important to know how long a driver has been working, what types of breaks and rest days he or she has taken, and what speed he or she was driving at,” said Västilä.

No fault found in brakes

The weekend’s investigation by Otke determined that there was nothing wrong with the brakes, despite the driver’s initial claim that they had not worked, which he then retracted on Saturday.

”It’s extremely unlikely that the accident was caused by the brakes,” says Lauriala.
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