A tour bus that crashed last month, killing 33 people, was traveling at excessive speeds leading up to the incident, the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday.
The crash occurred at about 9pm on Feb. 13 as the bus was traveling in the slow lane on the ramp connecting the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (National Freeway No. 5) to the south-bound lanes of the Formosa Freeway (National Freeway No. 3) in Taipei’s Nangang District (南港).
The bus exited a tunnel near the crash site at 84kph, despite a 50kph speed limit, prosecutors at the office told a news conference.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
The bus entered a bend at 98kph, in excess of the 40kph speed limit, before hitting a guard rail as it exited the bend at 79kph, they said.
Footage from another vehicle’s dashboard camera showed the bus entering the bend and its left side lifting off the ground, indicating that the driver — Kang Yu-hsun (康育薰), who was killed in the crash — had lost control, prosecutors said.
The footage showed the driver did not apply the brakes, they said, adding that examinations at the scene uncovered tracks left by the tires on the right side of the bus as it drifted toward the guard rail.
Relatives of people killed in the crash attending the news conference expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the investigation, saying that prosecutors were overlooking vehicle and seat safety issues.
“Prosecutors are putting the blame on the driver for speeding, but [they say nothing about how] all of the seats came loose in the accident,” said Chen Ching-yao (陳靖堯), a representative for victims’ families. “If passengers had their seat belts fastened, would they have been thrown in the air and killed?”
Chen said that the prosecutors did not explain why the driver had accelerated before entering the bend and why he took the exit toward the Muzha interchange rather than an earlier exit toward the Nangang interchange.
Chen called on prosecutors to investigate the structural integrity of tour buses to prevent similar incidents, saying he hoped the victims did not die in vain.
Prosecutors said that investigations were still ongoing and the details would be made public once they are completed.
Meanwhile, prosecutors said that the driver had worked excessive hours in the six-month period before the crash, which they said was a serious violation of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
Kang worked 28 days in August last year, 21 days in September, 25 days in October, 27 days in November, 28 days in December and 25 days in January, they said.
In December Kang worked 24 days in a row without rest, they said.
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