Failure to keep appropriate distance led to pile-up: police

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Failure to keep a safe distance was the main cause of the deadly pile-up inside Hsuehshan Tunnel, a preliminary police report indicated yesterday, as residents in Yilan rejected the idea of dropping the speed limit for a major route leading to their county.

The Capital Bus Company’s bus that rear-ended a small truck and caused a fire did not seem to be decelerating before the impact, judging from the video footage of the accident, police said.

But prosecutors said it was complicated work to determine who was at fault in an accident involving four vehicles.

The drivers of both buses remain hospitalized, and they are to be questioned later to see if they should be held responsible, the prosecutors said.

Two people were killed, and 31 others were injured on Monday in the worst accident since the 12.9-km-long tunnel opened to traffic six years ago.

While some transport experts have blamed the accident on speed, a legislator from Yilan, Chen Po-ou, said many residents in his home county do not believe reducing the speed limit inside the tunnel would reduce the risk.

He said keeping a safe distance is the key, as many previous accidents inside the tunnel have shown.

The National Freeway Bureau said it has yet to make any decision on dropping Hsuehshan Tunnel’s speed limit from the current 90 kph to 80 kph as suggested by some experts.

The bureau said it will hold a meeting on the speed issue next week.

Capital Bus General Manager Lee Chien-wen said the company will compensate or offer settlements to victims of the accident. The company will also cooperate with police in their probe into the cause of the accident and take responsibility for any criminal liability involved, Lee said.

Lee said following the accident that company will improve emergency drills for drivers and ensure road safety regulations are met.

Earlier he visited the seven injured victims who remained hospitalized in Saint Mary’s Hospital in Luodong and National Yang-Ming University Hospital in Yilan City.

He thanked medical staff for their hard work and asked them to give the victims the best care possible.

It is believed that one of the four cars involved in the accident blew a tire in the slow lane and stopped suddenly.

The Kamalan bus slowed and tried to swerve into the fast lane when the small truck rear-ended bus.

The Capital bus then slammed into the truck and sparked a fire.