Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Experts to assess safety of fatal Dubai bus crash road

Dubai court appoints experts to determine if driver was sufficiently warned about height-restriction barrier

Three road engineers will assess the safety of the road where a bus from Muscat slammed into a height-restriction barrier in June, killing 17 passengers. Pawan Singh / The National 
Three road engineers will assess the safety of the road where a bus from Muscat slammed into a height-restriction barrier in June, killing 17 passengers. Pawan Singh / The National 

A court-appointed team of experts will assess the safety of a road where a bus crashed into a height-restriction barrier and killed 17 passengers in June.

On Thursday, Dubai Court of Appeal ordered three road engineers to study the case file and assess the flyover to determine if it was built according to international standards and if any errors may have been made during construction.

The engineers have also been tasked with determining if the road signs ahead of the barrier were sufficient warning for the driver and if they are visible enough at all times of day.

They will also measure the distance between the height restriction chain and the barrier to ascertain if enough room had been left for a vehicle to stop. The chain itself will also be assessed to see if it made enough noise to warn the driver of the oncoming barrier.

On June 6, a Mwasalat bus carrying 31 passengers from Muscat, Oman, to Dubai after Eid Al Fitr slammed into a height-restriction barrier on the Al Rashidiya exit off Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road. The solid barrier tore

through the left side of the bus, killing 17 people — most of whom were from India. It was later revealed that the Omani driver, 53, was travelling twice the speed limit and had hung up a curtain panel across the top of the windshield to protect his eyes from the setting sun.

A month later, the driver was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay Dh3.4 million in blood money to families of the victims.

The surviving relatives previously told The National they thought authorities should take down the barrier, arguing that removing it could prevent future accidents.

Mohammed Al Saberi, the driver’s Emirati lawyer said Thursday’s ruling was in response to the appeal he lodged with the court that argued the driver should be acquitted because safety failings on the road meant he could not be held responsible for the deaths of the passengers.

“The experts will now look into all the details we mentioned as part of two reports we submitted to court which found the Roads and Transports Authority at fault in eight different instances in this case,” he said.

The driver plead guilty to charges of causing wrongful death of 17 people, injuring 13 others and causing damages at Dubai Traffic Court in July but said the sunshine had hampered his vision.

The day of the accident, the driver made the wrong turn and took an exit not designated for buses. Not seeing the height-restriction barrier, or the warning chain before it, the driver rammed straight into it.

Salah Al Felasi, director of Traffic Prosecution, called for the driver to receive the harshest sentence possible, saying his lack of attention and carelessness caused a tragic accident.

“The site of the crash witnessed zero accidents in the last 10 years,” Mr Al Falasi told the court.

A date for the next hearing will be determined after the team of experts submit their report to the court.

Updated: November 1, 2019 03:15 AM

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