TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Speeding was the main cause of the tour bus accident that killed 33 people, including the driver, on a freeway in Taipei on February 13, prosecutors said Friday.
The bus was returning from a long one-day trip to the cherry blossoms at Wuling Farm in Taichung City when it flipped over the barrier on an exit ramp linking two freeways in Taipei City. A total of 33 people died, with 11 surviving the ordeal.
The driver, Kang Yu-hsun, had been driving at a speed of first 98 kilometers per hour and then 79 kph when the accident happened, on a stretch where the maximum legal speed was clearly advertised as 40 kph, the Shilin District Prosecutors Office announced in a report Friday.
Relatives of the victims said they would take legal action against Iris Travel Agency Co., Ltd. to demand compensation.
The investigators concluded that nothing was wrong with the bus or with the road where the accident happened. The tires and brakes of the tour bus showed no problems, and the vehicle had successfully passed three consecutive safety reviews, even though the company only used relatively old buses.
Fatigue had often been mentioned as a probable cause for the accident, with the driver’s daughter rebutting statements by company management that he had received a sufficient amount of days off.
While prosecutors said Friday they had not found any evidence to suggest that the company made it difficult for its drivers to ask for leave, they said that Kang had worked up to 24 consecutive days without leave last December. He would work up to 28 days per month, according to the investigation.
On the question of insurance, 13 out of 16 drivers employed by Iris Travel Agency were not covered by labor insurance, prosecutors said.