Speed limiters to be fitted

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The Independent Online
SEVERAL measures to make bus and coach travel safer are already due to be implemented over the next few years.

The most significant is that coaches are to be fitted with speed limiters that restrict speed to 100kph (62mph).

Under EU law, from 1 January next year, all new coaches will have to be fitted with one, and from the beginning of 1996 all coaches built after 1988 will be required to have one.

In conjunction with this, in September this year Robert Key, the roads minister, wrote to the Bus and Coach Council advising its members that he wanted to ban all coaches from the outside lane of motorways from the beginning of 1996.

The council is fiercely opposed to this legislation, suggesting it will reduce the competitiveness of coaches compared with trains and Mr Key has decided to consult on the issue.

However, the speed limiters make the issue largely academic since the coaches will not be able to go fast enough to get into the outside lane.

The bus involved in yesterday's crash was built in 1992 in Spain by the German company Kassboher and is reckoned to be one of the safest, because it has a steel shell which is an integral part of the coach, rather than a separate body and chassis, and its windows are bonded directly into the steel for greater strength. The windows on the side that was uppermost after the crash were left unbroken after the accident.

It has five independent braking systems and its makers say it is built to withstand serious impacts.

A spokesman for the manufacturers said that last summer a similar vehicle was involved in a landslide on a mountain road in Spain and although it slipped 100 metres down a ravine, there were no serious injuries among passengers.