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Truck driver error caused M17 Tshwane bus crash: accident report

17 June 2022 - 12:18
Tshwane Emergency Services on the scene after a bus and truck collided on the M17 in Patryshoek, near Tshwane, on June 10 2022.
Tshwane Emergency Services on the scene after a bus and truck collided on the M17 in Patryshoek, near Tshwane, on June 10 2022.
Image: Supplied:Tshwane Emergency Services Department

Driver error was a contributing factor in the cause of the crash between a truck and bus on the M17 that claimed 15 lives and left 37 injured last Friday.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula released the accident report on Friday.

He said: “The bus was travelling in a southerly direction with 56 passengers on board. The truck carrying furniture was travelling in the opposite direction. The truck driver allowed his vehicle to veer off its original lane of travel into the oncoming lane, resulting in a head-on collision.”

Mbalula said an inquest will be opened.

“The presiding officer (magistrate) assigned this case will have to make a finding after the leading of evidence by eyewitnesses. It is unfortunate and lamentable since both drivers died, and consequently no-one can be charged for reckless and negligent driving and/or culpable homicide,” he said.

The truck veered from its original lane and into the path of the bus, resulting in the head-on collision.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula

Both drivers had valid EC1 drivers’ licences and professional driving permits. Though one driver was a foreign national, he had all the required documentation, including a valid register.

Mbalula said the report confirmed the crash happened at 5.10am. Weather conditions were clear and were ruled out as a contributory factor.

“The road was found to be in fair condition and not likely to have been a contributory factor.”

Mbalula said a full mechanical investigation was conducted on both vehicles and it was confirmed there were no mechanical defects or failures that contributed to the crash.

“It was found both vehicles were in a roadworthy state before the crash,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mbalula met with the families of the 15 deceased to offer support and ensure they receive social benefits support.

“ We visited the bereaved families. We know almost all the people who died were the only breadwinners in their families and they died while on their way to work,” he said.

Mbalula said an analysis conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation on major crashes involving buses and trucks countrywide from January 1 2020 to January 15 2022 revealed buses were involved in 18 major crashes in a period in which 178 people were killed and 600 suffered injuries.

In the same period, trucks were involved in 71 major crashes in which 463 people were killed, and 431 suffered injuries.

“Road crashes involving buses and trucks are a matter of grave concern to the department of transport and government in general. These crashes place a heavy burden on the health sector and the economy as they involve a high number of fatalities where the victims were economically active members of society. The pain is felt deeply by households left without breadwinners and children who are left orphaned without a parent to guide them through the challenges of life,” he said.

Mbalula said they have observed a disturbing trend where more trucks are avoiding the national and regional roads and using municipal roads.

He said the blocking of roads, including the blockages on  the N3 in recent days, amounted to economic sabotage.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the blockage of the roads, and that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to engage with the truck industry all around and not talk to one section in this regard. The next step will be for all members within the task team to sign off the implementation plan agreed upon. This will serve as a blueprint that will guide everybody on which issues to focus on and within which timelines these matters must be attended to,” he said.

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