Coroner calls for buses to have seatbelts following fatal Peterborough bus crash on A47

Passenger Brian Chapman and bus driver Michael Elcombe died in the crash in 2018
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A coroner has called for buses that use major A roads on their route to have seatbelts following a fatal crash on the A47 on a service between Peterborough and Norwich.

Brian Chapman, 76, of Cherry Road in Kettering was a passenger on the First Excel 1 bus when it collided with the lorry at 7.30am on Tuesday, June 26 2018. He died at the scene.

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Bus driver Michael Elcombe, 45, of Cley Road in Swaffham, Norfolk, also died as a result of the crash.

The scene of the fatal crashThe scene of the fatal crash
The scene of the fatal crash

A further 17 people were injured with six suffering serious injuries and the remaining suffering minor injuries. The majority of the people injured were from Peterborough, with one from Hunstanton in Norfolk.

Now coroner Simon Milburn has recommended buses have seatbelts.

In a Prevention of Future Deaths Report, addressed to The Department For Transport, and specifically focusing on the death of Mr Chapman, Mr Milburn said: “One of the two vehicles involved in the collision was a double decker service bus travelling a scheduled route between Peterborough and Norwich, a distance of approximately 80 miles. The bus was not fitted with passenger seatbelts. I heard evidence that although since 01.10.01 seatbelts are required to be fitted in all new buses(this vehicle was on a ‘63’ plate’) there is an exemption where such vehicles are designed for urban use with standing passengers.

Brian Chapman died in the collisionBrian Chapman died in the collision
Brian Chapman died in the collision
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“Whilst this particular route required the bus to travel from/to and stop off in 5-6 urban centres the majority of the journey took place on a major A route through rural areas. The speed of the bus at the point of collision was approximately 53mph. Both the bus driver and an upper deck passenger were killed in the collision.

"Whilst there was no evidence that either death would have been prevented by the wearing of seatbelts a number of other passengers were injured in the collision. I am concerned where buses are undertaking journeys such as this through predominantly rural locations and subject to the national speed limit without seatbelts being required there is an obvious risk of death to passengers if collisions occur, particularly at high speed.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson sent condolences to the family of Mr Chapman, and said: “While travelling by bus and coach is one of the safest modes of transport, we are committed to improving the safety for all bus passengers.

“Since 2001, seatbelts have been required in all new buses with the exemption of those that are designed to carry standing passengers and typically operate at slower speeds on urban routes.”

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In his report, Mr Milburn outlined the circumstances of the crash. He said: “Mr Chapman was a passenger seated on the upper deck of a bus travelling eastbound on the A47 at Wisbech St Mary on 26.06.18. At approximately 0728hrs the bus driver did not react to the presence of an articulated lorry which was undertaking a right hand turn from a haulage depot on the nearside of the carriageway onto the westbound carriageway of the A47.

"The bus collided at sped with the lorry trailer which was sat across the eastbound carriageway. Extensive damage was caused to both vehicles and sadly Mr Chapman suffered significant and unsurvivable traumatic injuries.”