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Safety authority issues new recommendations after fatal bus crash probe

The crash, which took place late last summer in Kuopio, claimed four lives and severely injured nine others.

Onnettomuustutkintakeskuksen tutkijat työskentelevät bussivarikolla.
The wreckage of a bus which crashed and killed four passengers last summer in Kuopio. Image: Hannu Rainamo / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Safety Investigation Authority’s probe into a deadly bus crash in eastern Finland's Kuopio last summer has resulted in six new safety recommendations.

Four passengers died and 19 others were injured in a bus crash in August. Nine of the passengers were seriously injured, while 10 others were hurt less severely.

The driver reportedly lost control of the bus and ploughed through five cars before plunging off an overpass and landing on a train track below the roadway.

Now, several months later, the country’s Safety Investigation Authority has published a report on findings it made in a probe of the crash, noting that there were several reasons behind it.

The agency found that the driver’s health condition and heavy workload were factors in his diminished alertness. It said the driver did not notice the approaching intersection in time and that his attempt to bring the bus to a stop was unsuccessful. The authority also said the driver had little experience with the vehicle.

Additionally, the roadway where the accident took place was particularly short and there were no traffic signs that alerted drivers to slow down for the oncoming intersection, according to the authority. Additionally, the driver’s view of the approaching intersection was obscured between the motorway and the exit, the report states.

Bus crashed off overpass

The four fatalities and injuries of passengers were a result of the bus falling 10 metres from the overpass onto the train tracks below. The safety agency said it found no technical malfunction in the bus which would have caused the crash.

The authority’s report said that the driver suffered from a chronic illness which was not addressed during his bus licensing review, nor addressed in visits to the health centre.

The authority said its investigation revealed various safety shortcomings in the bus transport sector and issued six new safety recommendations, including:

  • The Ministry of Transport and Communications should establish guidelines that specify the safety measures which will be taken into use across the bus transport sector.

  • Medical studies institutions should provide students with instruction in basic driver health studies, including in specialist and post graduate studies. In particular, the authority said physicians should be familiar with the characteristics of a professional driver’s occupation and the health requirements they need to fulfill in order to drive safely.

  • The transport ministry should increase the recognition to which the condition of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can play in regards to road safety, particularly for professional drivers.

  • The transport ministry should review the requirements and practices which monitors and ensures the health status of bus drivers and that the monitoring of the good physical condition of bus drivers should be at the same level as required in other modes of transportation. Consideration must also be given to drivers’ mental health and fatigue levels.

  • The Transport Infrastructure Agency should map out potentially hazardous roads for heavy vehicles and plan corrective measures in cooperation with municipalities and the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

  • The Ministry of Transport and Communications should expand its international cooperation in bringing available technologies to the bus transport sector, including things like collision warning and emergency braking systems, vehicle lane monitoring gear and devices that monitor drivers’ alertness levels.

A police probe into the crash is ongoing, which is being investigated as four counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter.

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