Tragedies On French Roads See Calls For Improvements In Coach Safety

Lawyers Call For Action After Two Fatal Coach Crashes in 24 Hours

19.02.2012

Travel law experts are calling for improvements in coach safety following two fatal crashes in France over the weekend, one of which left a British man dead and 27 others injured.

Hours after the first tragedy in the North near Reims, a German double decker tour bus also overturned in the South-East of the country and initial reports suggest 28 passengers out of the 74 on board were killed.

Clive Garner, a partner and head of Irwin Mitchell's International Travel Law Team in Birmingham, said: "In the case of both crashes, early reports indicate that no other vehicles were involved. The possibility of mechanical failure will need to be carefully investigated as will the possibility of driver error.

"We have dealt with many serious and often fatal coach crashes around the World involving British tourists. In most of these previous cases driver error has played a major part in causing the accident.

"Over more than a decade we have been calling for improved driver training, monitoring and oversight to reduce the risk of coach crashes occurring.

"From experience of past cases in France, I am confident that the French authorities will undertake thorough and comprehensive investigations to determine what went wrong. As part of their investigations they will interview drivers of the vehicles, people who were on board and other witnesses.
 
“They will analyse the scene of the accidents and gather evidence including the speed of the vehicles and the condition of the roads together with analysing data from any Tachographs that were fitted.

“The driver's work patterns, including the numbers of hours driven and the timing and frequency of breaks will also be assessed to determine whether they were driving within safe limits.

“An investigating Magistrate will also be appointed and a decision will be made as to whether any criminal charges should be brought against the driver either vehicle or any other parties. In due course an inquest into the death of the British passenger will be opened and then adjourned pending the outcome of any criminal proceedings in France.

"Our thoughts go out to the victims of these tragic incidents and the family of those who sadly lost their lives. Nothing can turn back the clock but we hope that lessons are learned to prevent a repeat of this kind of accident in the future and that all those effected receive the justice that they deserve."

The specialist International travel law team at Irwin Mitchell, who are currently representing the families of three British students killed in a coach crash in Thailand,  has wide experience of representing victims and the families of those killed in coach accidents around the world.

They have dealt with coach crashes in France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Turkey, South Africa, Morocco and USA.