The driver of a tour bus that crashed in Nantou County in October last year was prosecuted today, after an investigation determined that he had ignored warning indicators, and continued to drive downhill in high gear until the brakes finally failed, leading to one death, and 23 injured passengers.
[See previous article: Bus Brakes Fail: 1 Dead, 23 Injured ]
On October 24, 2017, the bus driver, Mr Lai (賴), was in charge of a tour bus carrying a group from a Christian church in Tainan City, when it crashed while going downhill from Qinjing Farm. The impact saw some passengers thrown from the bus, and a total of 24 people were rushed to Puli Christian Hospital, and Taichung Veteran’s Hospital.
One passenger was declared dead, and three were seriously injured after the accident.
The Nantou District Prosecutor’s Officer today said that Mr Lai, an experienced driver, understood the braking system, and knew that low gears should be used while traveling downhill.
However, Lai chose to stay in high gear, and continually used the brakes to slow down the vehicle, causing the air-pressure in the storage tank to fall to critical levels.
Lai ignored warning lights on the instrument panels and audible alarm signals, and continued to drive for 21.7 kilometers, until the brake system completely failed.
Lai argued in his defense that the brake failure was not his fault, and that he did not only use the brake pedal, but had downshifted and used the engine braking system.
However, a report from Feng Chia University’s Vehicle Accident Research Center found that the accident on the long downhill section had been caused by the over-use of brakes, leading to a lack of air-pressure, which resulted in visual and audible alarms, which were ignored until a brake drum overheated, and complete brake failure resulted in the accident.
Prosecutors investigated vehicle maintenance records, and determined that the vehicle had been regularly maintained, and that there were no abnormalities in the braking system before the incident.
Prosecutors determined that the accident was caused by the operator. Lai was charged with negligent death and injury.
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