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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

Yamuna Expressway bus accident: Non-functional GPS device, no record of speed

Officials said the GPS device fitted into the bus was not functioning and the vehicle had no connection with the VTS at the UPSRTC headquarters at the time it fell into a drain.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2019 13:54 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Rescue workers and policemen trying to recover the bodies of dead and injured from the mangled remains of UP Roadways  bus after it fell off the Yamuna Expressway into a large drain near Agra on Monday, July 8, 2019.
Rescue workers and policemen trying to recover the bodies of dead and injured from the mangled remains of UP Roadways bus after it fell off the Yamuna Expressway into a large drain near Agra on Monday, July 8, 2019.(ANI )
         

Did the driver of the ill-fated UPSRTC bus that fell off the Yamuna Expressway on Monday killing 29 passengers exceed the speed limit? One may never get to know the answer to this all important question.

That is because the bus was beyond the radar of the UP State Road Transport Corporation’s centralised vehicle tracking system (VTS), which maintains a real-time vigil on the speed and location of GPS-fitted vehicles. The system also alerts drivers in cases of overspeeding, immediately asking them to slow down.

Officials said the GPS device fitted into the bus was not functioning and the vehicle had no connection with the VTS at the UPSRTC headquarters at the time it fell into a drain.

“The VTS has reported the bus’ speed to be 50 km/hour at Unnao, but from there on, the vehicle lost connection with the VTS due to which it is not possible to know what speed the bus was running at when it met with the accident,” UPSRTC chief general manager (technical), Jaideep Verma, told HT on phone.

The maximum speed fixed for buses on all roads in the state is 80km/hour.

Meanwhile, the bus was dovetailed with a speed governor (speed limiting device). Verma claimed that speed governors had been fitted in 7,000 buses, while buses manufactured after 2016 were prefitted with the device. “The ill-fated bus also had a factory-fitted speed governor that was functioning,” he said.

Sources, however, said that many drivers often tampered with speed governors as well as GPS devices to make it possible for them to overspeed. “This possibility cannot be ruled out in this case either,” they said.

There are believed to be two possible reasons why the bus lost connection with the VTS after Unnao.

A source said, “The bus had come from the workshop after maintenance/check-up. It is possible that the GPS wire was left loose after checking because of which the device got disconnected from the VTS after some time. The second reason could be that the bus staff tampered with the GPS devise, as some of them do at times, to avoid being caught overspeeding or diverting from the allotted route, etc.”

With the GPS device’s disconnection with the VTS, there is no possibility of knowing the speed at which Krapa Shankar Chaudhary, the man behind the steering wheel, was driving the vehicle, which remained the most discussed subject at the government level as well as at the UPSRTC headquarters on Monday.

Sources said that the committee probing into the possible causes of the accident also contacted the officers concerned to know about the speed of the bus immediately before it fell off the expressway.

“Although we are exploring possibilities, it appears unlikely that we will be able to know the speed of the bus, as it had no connection with the VTS,” they said.

The Delhi-bound Awadh Depot AC Janrath bus (UP 33 AT 5877), carrying 52 passengers, fell into a drain between 4.30 am-5 am on Monday.