View Full Version : School bus crash in Ireland

24th May 2005, 14:35
My thoughts go out to the families of the deceased. Truly one of the most horrible ways to lose a loved one :(

24th May 2005, 14:59
Every parent's nightmare.
Bus company had begin phasing in seatbelts, but not on this bus. Most of the deaths and injuries seem to have been people thrown out of the bus.
the emergency crews seemed to be on the ball.

24th May 2005, 15:09
Really gut wrenching stuff listening on the radio this morning.

What I can't understand is that in my industry, the regulations regarding vehicle construction, seat mountings, seat belts etc (particularly where children are carried) are extremely strict and rigourously enforced (and rightly so). I'm only involved in smaller 'minibuses' (up to 16 passengers). When it comes to full size coaches and buses, the regulations seem far more lax with belts seeming to be much more of an optional thing.


eastern wiseguy
24th May 2005, 16:16
Do the same regulations apply in the Republic of Ireland? Is there an eu directive? and if not why not?

24th May 2005, 17:11
Spokesperson for Bus Eireann (national body responsible for these things) stated yesterday that while they were in a process of retro-fitting seatbelts to all school-buses they were operating under European Law which does make such things necessary!!!

So, curvy bananas are bad - no seatbelts for schoolchildren on buses is good - go figure :rolleyes:

Can I point out that several of the deceased died having been thrown out of the bus during the crash.

Irish Steve
24th May 2005, 18:26
At the moment, it's all very quiet on what actually happened.

The weather at the time was not good, very heavy showers were going through all day, and to make it worse, there was resurfacing work going on in the immediate area of the accident.

While not confirmed, there was apparently a heavy shower (probably with hail) passing over at the time.

There were 3 vehicles involved. As far as can be ascertained, rumour, absolutely unconfirmed at present, has suggested that one of the cars passed the bus.

Shortly after, the bus "swerved", to the extent that it did at least a 180, possibly more, before rolling.

Again, at present, this is unconfirmed

The road has been closed all day today, and I've just heard that there has apparently been another bus at the site today doing supervised skid tests.

The biggest worry of them all is that even with seat belts, there would have been problems, as it has been "standard practice" for years to put 3 children on a seat designed for 2, and until very recently, the age and quality of some of the buses used on school runs was deplorable.

The bus involved in the incident yesterday was relatively modern compared to many that are used, and the driver is familiar with the route, and had driven it for years.

It looks very much as if a combination of factors that in isolation would not have been a problem, have combined, with fatal results.

A high level committee of inquiry has been set up by Bus Eireann, with a former Garda as the head, and they are being asked to provide a preliminary report in 10 weeks.

A spokesperson for Bus Eireann stated on the evening news program that any recommendations from the report "will be implemented".

Garda and health & safety inquiries are also ongoing.

A Very sad day for all involved, and for the community over a wide area.

24th May 2005, 18:52
If the school buses used to transport children to and from school and used for other local school trips are anything like the ones used here in France...

They tend to be the oldest buses on the road, rejects from coach companies which have long since moved to modern replacements. I see them almost everyday, parked up in laybys after they've done their morning trip, where they sit until it's time to take the kids home again. I imagine their drivers are part-timers or semi-retired too, though that shouldn't necessarily relect on the safety of such buses even if they're maintained correctly. The point is that being old, they were built to by now, very outdated standards. What modern coach company is going to operate "school bus" type services "tying-up" expensive modern vehicles?! How much would it cost if a modern coach company provided the service? Would the local council be able to afford it? Would the parent/taxpayer cough up...?!

You can "roll" just about any cheap modern car and hope to come out alive. In that respect, even the most modern coach is the equivalent of a being transported in a soufflé... :yuk:

24th May 2005, 19:47
One-time professional transport planner here.

The vehicle involved was not an old one, looking at the press photographs. The Irish bus operator, who have a large national fleet of coaches, local buses and schoolbuses, have been in the process of replacing their traditional old schoolbus fleet with transfers down from their main long distance coach fleet (say 5-7 years old) as these are in turn replaced by the newest vehicles. Ironically it was one of these more recent coaches that was involved.

It is obvious though that if you are going to use some buses on regular runs and they clock up 300 miles a day, whereas the schoolbuses do perhaps 20 miles a day (and are unused 1/3 of the year), it makes sense to use the most modern and highest safety feature vehicles on the most intensive work.

Schoolbus operators in the UK have had to go to some expense to fit seatbelts only to find them quite unused due to peer pressure as it is "uncool" to wear them.

Ejecting passengers through the windows is unfortunately a standard event in major transport accidents, both bus and rail, especially if the vehicle overturns (although such accidents on both modes are extremely rare, as in aviation). Car passengers are to some extent protected as the window apertures are too small for people to pass through easily.

Irish Steve
24th May 2005, 20:23
The vehicle involved was not an old one, looking at the press photographs.

Correct, in the scale of things, I think it was about 93, which is one of the newer school buses. The comments about old, basic and horrible vehicles could have been applied until quite recently, it's only the improved economy that has meant that newer coaches have been introduced so the really old stock could be replaced. Some of the older stock was postively antique, and should have been replaced years ago, but the economy just could not stand replacing everything at once.

One of the downsides of the "pass it down" policy is the design. Looking at the coach in this incident, it was formerly a long haul unit, and like many of the longer route coaches, it's high, as it has a lot of luggage space under the main deck, the downside of which is that if there's nothing in that area, and on a school run it's empty, that makes for a much higher centre of gravity, thus if it does start to roll, it's not going to come back as readily.

Hopefully, that's one of the things that's going to be looked at in the investigation, as long as it occurs to someone involved.

The maintenance should be OK, they are checked to the same level as "normal" PSV's, and the drivers have to have a full E class licence.

On the funding side, don't even consider the UK model, I know both, as I used to live in the UK. Irish local government is centrally funded, and much of the infrastructure of schools, transportation and the like is centrally funded, the schools and local authorities have no control over what is provided, or who provides it.

Remember that the entire country only has a population of about half of London, and it's unequally spread over a massive geography, so the concept of a local (county) council that has any clout or control just does not exist, most of the decisions are centralised.

It's starting to change, very slowly, another of the problems being that for so many generations, the Irish got used to saying f:mad:K you and your rules in the direction of an admittedly bad British government, and when independence happened, the theory was that the old attitudes to government would change.

Snag is they didn't, so we've seen high placed politicians like CJ Haughey, Ray Burke, Liam Lawlor and others all stick their noses deeply into a very lucrative trough of corruption, and it's only in very recent times that the Gov't has had the courage to stand up to the institutionalised corruption and say "No more".

The voters still have to take that on board, many people in Haughey's constituency had the attitude "shore, wasn't he a cute hoor for getting away with it for as long as he did!"

So, things like school buildings, transport, and many other issues, like rural hospitals, have suffered badly as a result of vested interests that didn't always have the best result for the people in mind. Sadly, those attitudes sometimes have consequences that no one could have forseen.

24th May 2005, 20:39
Sad news :(

Still 6 critically injured, hope they pull through :sad:

24th May 2005, 22:10
OK - I'm going to get flamed for this, but Mrs Synth is Irish, so we go there often.

One of the most attractive things about the country is their layed back attitude. If something is going to get done, then that's great, and if it ain't, then no-one looses too much sleep about it. Nice.

Until it affects a safety issue.

The flexible attitude to drink driving?

The fact that last time we had to catch a coatch, it drove for about ten miles before it stopped and someone passed the driver his glasses that he needed to drive---

ad astra
24th May 2005, 23:29
Synthetic, I don't think there is a relaxed attitude to any motoring issues in Ireland any more. Drink driving is certainly taken seriously, and with the introduction of the NCT (MOT test), cars are, or should be, up to any European safety standards.

Irish Steve
25th May 2005, 00:42
Drink driving is certainly taken seriously


Not all the time though, depending on how bad the last weekend's fatalaties have been, and if that sounds cynical, it's because that's the way it is.

You only have to look at the number of fatal accidents that happen in the early hours of the morning, often single vehicles, to realise that there is still a very large drink driving problem here.

Part of it is lack of enforcement, and that's down to manpower or the lack thereof. You stand more chance of getting a fine for smoking in a pub than you do for drink driving!

Many of the out of town pubs operate 2 or 3 hours beyond official closing time, the car parks are pretty full, and there's not that many houses local to the pub, so they're not walking or getting taxi's home.

Vehicle standards are now better, the NCT has indeed got most of the scrap off the road. A few years of "scrappage" deals before the NCT came in helped, and the NCT is now stiffer than it was when it first came in, so that also is making a difference.

Having said that, the main thing that did the most good was the Celtic Tiger economy, if that hadn't happened, there would still be a load of scrap on the roads.

I can remember what it was like when I first started working in Ireland, having been used to the UK MOT system for years. Vehicles that had been crashed at both ends, with both bonnet and boot held shut with wire or binder twine, no working lights, and quite often a chassis that was twisted, so the back wheels didn't actually follow the front ones, but were offset in some cases by several inches. Dublin was well provided with cars like that, and the country had it's fair share as well.

Add to that over 30% of the population driving on provisional licences, or no licence at all, and it's easy to see why there were so many problems. The standard of driving is still very low, and it's not improving, and with the way that the vehicles have improved, especially speed wise, that's a problem. A few years back, with the (lack of) "performance" of the older vehicles, their tyres, (often bald), and the quality of the roads, the majority took care, as they knew that if they didn't, the lack of performance of the car etc would soon catch them out. Now, the roads are better in a lot of places, and the performance of the cars and their tyres means that drivers get lulled into a false sense of security in their quiet car that handles well in almost every situation, until........... and then they're a statistic, or worse.

The provisional situation hasn't improved that much, as the failure rate of tests is over 50%, there are close on 120,000 drivers waiting for tests, with the delay at some test stations being over 12 months.

PSV drivers are better now, the standard has improved, along with the quality of the buses and coaches.

Going back to the original issues, the one better piece of news is that the 6 that were critical are now "stable", and have been taken off the critical list. The majority of the injured have been discharged from hospital, only 8 are now still in hospital overnight, which is almost miraculous when the number on the bus (51) and the severity of the crash are considered. While it's a tragic outcome, it could only too easily have been far worse.

Loose rivets
25th May 2005, 06:51
As a grandad regularly making the school run, my heart goes out to the families.

Here the famous yellow busses are equipped with every kind of light and swinging stop sign. But no seat belts. (Oddly, it leads to American kids walking out from the front of the bus while reading etc.!)

One comparatively small school South of Austin--which is in the countryside, has buses which travel a total of 6,000 miles a day! When a boy became paraplegic due to falling off a deck at his home, the authorities surfaced over half a mile of our road (dirt track in the hills) and has conveyed him to school ever since. Fantastic....but in a bus with no seat belts.

25th May 2005, 11:03

the attitude to drink-driving here is generally age-related. The older ones have been doing it for years, and believe they still can do it. The younger generation are far more copped-on. As Steve said, enforcement is the issue, and the cops can't do random testing - although they get around this in typical Irish-style (if they're in the humour) by stopping cars to check tax, insurance, etc, and then you get the head stuck in the car window with 20 questions to suss you out!

ad astra
25th May 2005, 12:23
I think the situation here in Ireland of being able to drive yourself to the driving test centre/fail the test/drive yourself home is pretty ridiculous. But do you remember a few years ago the outcry when the police wanted to prosecute learners without a qualified driver in the car, and insurance companies said that policies would be invalid in this case; both were forced to back down and now half the country is driving round illegally.
The NCT has made a difference as has been said, but it still surprises me how many cars/vans I see with bald tyres, especially out in the sticks.

25th May 2005, 16:12
The state of the roads in Ireland has to be the largest contributing factor to the comparatively massive accident statistics.

Irish Steve
25th May 2005, 19:52
One of the more "serious" morning radio shows was discussing this accident today, and it seems that the focus of attention is going in the direction of the maintenance work being done in the area.

I didn't catch all of the discussion, but it seems that circulars were sent to all the local authorities by the National Roads Authority at some stage in the last while warning them of the risk of skidding on "base course tarmac". Apparently, when a new suface is being applied, there are several different grades of tarmac used, and the base course has very poor friction co-efficients, which can result in loss of grip in certain circumstances.

The short bit I heard this morning was suggesting that speeds should be limited to an average of 30 mph OR LESS on this new temporary surface, and that's in dry conditions. At the time of the accident, it was far from dry.

The surface is only considered safe for higher speeds when the wearing course, which is nothing like as smooth, has been applied. The real catch 22 is that in some cases, if the weather conditions are not right, the work to lay the foundation layer can be completed, and the wearing course may not be applied for several months!!!!

There was a discussion this morning about another fatal accident that occurred some while ago that was directly attributed to the absence of the wearing course on the road, which resulted in the vehicle invoved losing all grip.

It begins to look as suspected, there were a number of contributory factors which combined served up a fatal combination.

There are now 4 students and the driver of one of the other vehicles involved still in hospital.

25th May 2005, 21:26
OK Guys - thanks for not getting the rope out yet. Please don't get me wrong. As a Cornishman, I always promised myself I would go home when I retired. That was until I met Mrs Synth and she took me to Ireland. From the first day I set foot on the old Country, I was made welcome in a way I have never been in England. The quality of life is something the English will not find at home. For example, we did not have seperate stag and hen nights, we simply got everyone together and went to the local. At about 01:00 the Garda arived, and started glearing the pub. My brother in law went up to them and told them it was our pre wedding party, and they accepted that and left. We all walked back to where we were staying (eventually!!).

I Love the country. and am privaleged to be accepted there, but there are a few things I would change.