Letter: Lessons to be learnt from minibus crash

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The Independent Online
Sir: Wednesday night's horrific accident in which 12 children were killed when their minibus crashed into the back of a lorry on the M40 and burst into flames highlights the dangers of fire in vehicles and of petrol as a fuel. Had petrol vehicles been invented today, they would not be allowed, being a safety hazard. Petrol is incredibly inflammable. In a frontal collision, fuel pipes can be ruptured and the petrol pour on to hot exhaust manifolds. In rear-end collisions the tank can rupture and flood the road with fuel.

Diesel fuel will burn, but is much more difficult to ignite. Buses and coaches have been diesel powered since the Thirties, and so are the new minibuses that run many local bus services. However, most vans and minibuses run by schools, Scout groups, voluntary organisations, etc, and offered by hire companies use petrol.

Minibuses are harder to escape from than cars since they carry more people but have no more doors. Often the people carried are children or the aged or infirm, who are less mobile or have less presence of mind. I have a diesel car, and this is one of the reasons.

Yours faithfully,