Roberval english summary

At about 19:30 on the evening of Friday 13 February 2015, the day the holidays began, an accident involving three articulated lorries (tractor units with half-trailers) and two coaches occurred on the A1 motorway in the Lille to Paris direction on the Roberval viaduct (Oise).
The accident caused a major fire and the A1 motorway was blocked in both directions.
Before the fire completely destroyed one of the coaches involved, its driver managed to evacuate all of its passengers (including a large number of children).

The direct cause of this accident was an inappropriate manoeuvre on the part of the driver of an articulated lorry, which pulled out to the left when approaching an obstacle comprising a first stationary articulated lorry located mostly on the right lane of the motorway, pulled out to the left and collided with a coach which was overtaking it in the middle lane then went on to collide with the stationary articulated lorry.
A further accident was caused by a third articulated lorry which collided with a second coach travelling on the middle lane, then with the articulated lorry that caused the first accident. The direct cause of this additional accident was the fact that the driver of the third articulated lorry did not comply with the safety distance from the articulated lorry that caused the first accident.

Several factors contributed to the occurrence of this accident :

  • the stationary articulated lorry had stopped on an area of the motorway without a hard shoulder ;
  • delay by the driver in notifying the SANEF (North and East France Motorways Company) central operations post, which restricted the opportunity to put a protective system and appropriate signs in place ;
  • classification of the event as “not obstructing traffic” due to the fact that the SANEF central operations post operator had difficulty in locating it and did not send a patrol officer or arrange for the protection systems and signs appropriate for the actual situation to be put in place ;

Accordingly, BEA-TT made three recommendations concerning :

  • procedures for central operations post operators to intervene in the event of vehicle breakdowns on sections where the hard shoulder is reduced or non-existent ;
  • safety distance between two heavy goods vehicles.

BEA-TT also called on motorway operators to undertake or conduct awareness raising campaigns among users concerning the behaviour to adopt in the event of difficulty (stopping on safety zones, calling from emergency telephones, etc.).

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