Report on head-on collision between two buses on county road Fv 450 at Nafstad in Ullensaker on 17 November 2017

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At 13:00 on Friday 17 November 2017, two buses in regular service from the same bus company had a head-on collision in a curve at the bottom of Nafstad hill along the Fv 450 road in Ullensaker municipality. Both buses were travelling at a speed of approximately 33-34 km/h at the time of the collision.

The driver of the eastbound bus had driven the same route several times this day, and the investigation showed that a friction change occurred shortly before the accident. This was due to local rime frost and ice formation in a shade part of the road.

The extent of damage in the accident was affected by insufficient crash protection on the buses. Despite the low speed, one of the bus drivers was killed instantly, and the other was critically injured in the accident.

The investigation has shown that a layer of rime frost and a film of ice had formed locally in the Nafstad hill on an otherwise bare road due to shade from trees along the road. The driver of the eastbound bus, which was equipped with studless winter tyres, struggled to control the bus going down the hill and it ended up the opposite lane as it was leaving a sharp right-hand curve with a slight camber at the bottom of the hill. There it collided head-on with a westbound bus of the same type. None of the passengers sustained serious injuries.

The road had last been sanded at 05:30 on the same day, and the investigation has shown that the combination of local conditions, different winter maintenance strategies and various measures on the roads in Akershus, is a challenge for the bus drivers. The event of rime frost in the winter season has proven to be particularly challenging because of a ban on studded tyres for public transport vehicles set by the contracting authority for environmental reasons.

Vehicle data downloaded from the bus show that the driver of the eastbound bus applied the brakes and thereby activated the ABS system approximately 150 metres from the site of the collision. Over a period of 10 seconds, the bus driver managed to reduce the speed to 34 km/h before the impact. The approaching westbound bus was travelling at a speed of 33 km/h at the time of impact. The front of each bus penetrated into the other by about one metre. The driver of the eastbound bus was killed instantly, and the driver of the westbound bus was critically injured in the accident.

The AIBN considers the deformations and the severity of the injuries resulting from the collision to be extensive given the relatively low speed of the buses.

The buses that collided were of identical make and year: Volvo 8700, 2009 models. The investigation has shown that, although the buses met both the national and international regulatory requirements, such buses are subject to less stringent crashworthiness requirements than other groups of vehicles.

The AIBN submits six safety recommendations as a result of this investigation.

Safety recommendation

Safety recommendation ROAD No 2019/07T

The investigation of the head-on collision between two buses in regular service on 17 November 2017 has shown that rime frost and a film of ice formed between 11:00 and 13:00 in the area along Nafstad hill that was in the shade. The sanding of the road at approximately 05:30 did not have the desired effect on this frost formation. The investigation has shown challenges with the design of the road, vegetation, and signage as well.

The Accident Investigation Board Norway recommends that Akershus county authority carry out a safety-review on sections of road in the area near the accident.

Safety recommendation ROAD No 2019/08T

The investigation of the head-on collision between two buses in regular service on 17 November 2017 has shown that Ruter, for environmental reasons, has made it a requirement that its bus service operators cannot use studded tyres in public transport in Akershus county. There is no description of any compensatory safety measures. The AIBN is of the opinion that this requirement affects road safety and that the choice of tyres should be up to the bus service operators and drivers.

The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board recommends that Ruter review the road safety consequences of the requirements set out in contracts with bus service operators.

Safety recommendation ROAD No 2019/09T

The investigation of the head-on collision between two buses in regular service on 17 November 2017 has shown that both the buses were travelling at a speed of 33–34 km/h at the time of impact. The AIBN believes that the severity of the accident could have been reduced if the international regulations relating to crashworthiness for buses, which is reflected in the Norwegian Car Regulations, had been strengthened. Following a similar accident, the Finnish Accident Investigation Board issued a safety recommendation on this issue to the Finnish traffic authorities in 2015, and Norway has made several attempts to raise the issue at the international level, most recently in April 2019.

The Accident Investigation Board Norway recommends that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, in cooperation with the Finnish traffic authorities and the other Nordic countries, submit a proposal to the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (UNECE-GRSG, WP.29) on enhanced crash protection requirements for bus drivers.

Safety recommendation ROAD No 2019/10T

The investigation of the head-on collision between two buses in regular service on 17 November 2017 has shown that the buses were equipped and approved in accordance with Norwegian and international regulations. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has previously made use of the opportunity to demand seatbelts in class II buses engaged in transport for which a permit is required in Norway, through the regulations relating to universal design of motor vehicles (Forskrift om universell utforming av motorvogn i løyvepliktig transport mv.). The regulations also permit the introduction of additional requirements for material in competitive tenders for transport requiring a permit. The AIBN is of the opinion that Section 5 of these regulations can be used to achieve enhanced crash protection for bus drivers.

The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board recommends that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration consider using national regulations as the basis for improving the crashworthiness of buses used in transport for which a permit is required in Norway.

Safety recommendation ROAD No 2019/11T

The investigation of the head-on collision between two buses in regular service on 17 November 2017 has shown that the buses were both travelling at a speed of 33–34 km/h at the time of impact. The buses were of the same make (Volvo 8700), and both were 2009 models. Since 2007, Volvo has installed underrun protection systems on its express coaches (M3, class III). This exceeds the requirements under international regulations, and the AIBN believes that this accident illustrates the need for enhanced crash protection for drivers of ordinary buses in regular service.

The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board recommends that Volvo as a manufacturer, improve the crash protection for drivers on all its bus types.

Safety recommendation ROAD No 2019/12T

The investigation of the head-on collision between two buses in regular service on 17 November 2017 has shown that the buses were equipped and approved in accordance with Norwegian and international regulations. The buses met the requirements set by Ruter in connection with the invitation to tender in 2008. At the same time, the AIBN sees that the safety requirements Ruter applies in tenders for bus service operators may be used to achieve better crashworthiness than the level achieved through Norwegian and international regulations.

The Norwegian Accident Investigation Board recommends that Akershus county authority and Ruter introduce crash protection requirements for drivers as a criterion in connection with tenders for new public transport services.

Location
Fv 450 Nafstad, Ullensaker
Occurrence date
17.11.2018
Accident type
Head-on collision
Road class
County road
County
Akershus
Police Disctrict
Romerike
Vehicle type
Bus or coach
Type of Transportation
Passenger transport
Road region
Eastern Region
Accident category
Ulykke med buss
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Report on head-on collision between two buses on county road Fv 450 at Nafstad in Ullensaker on 17 November 2017 Download report
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