Human Error Blamed for Tragic Bus-train Crash

A committee established by the Transport Ministry stated today that human error was responsible for the train-bus collision June II which took the lives of 18 school children and three adults on an outing to a nature preserve south of Haifa.

The committee’s chairman, Prof. Moshe Livne of the Haifa Technion’s Road Safety Department, also faulted the “incorrect geometry” of the unguarded railway crossing where the collision occurred as a factor in the tragedy. His report was submitted to Transport Minister Haim Corfu.

While Livne stressed that his panel’s task was not to apportion blame, the report clearly assigned culpability to the bus driver, Ruth Davidoff, 39, a divorced mother of two, who died in the crash. The report stated that while the rearview mirrors on the bus were not aligned to give a clear view of the tracks, the driver would have had an unobstructed view had she moved her head slightly. The report also stated that the bus radio, playing at the time, may have masked the whistle of the oncoming train.

The locomotive engineer of the Tel Aviv-to-Haifa passenger train which slammed into the bus was held blameless. He was travelling at his authorized speed of 60 mph and sounded his whistle and applied his brakes as soon as the bus came into view the report said. But there was insufficient distance to bring a train at that speed to a full stop. The locomotive and the bus were found both to be in good mechanical order.

The report found that the railway crossing, one of 300 on secondary roads in Israel which have neither gates nor warning signals, could be improved at a cost of a few thousand dollars. The road itself posed a hazard insofar as it made a sharp turn toward the railroad tracks.

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