An accident in which 26 people died last week in Guerrero has helped revive the debate over the safety of semi-tractors pulling two trailers.
A semi carrying gasoline collided head on with a bus carrying tourists last Thursday on the Siglo 21 freeway near Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán.
And while investigators have concluded that the driver of the bus, who was killed along with the driver of the semi, was at fault, there are many other cases in which double-trailer semis can be blamed for fatal accidents, says a man who wants to see them banned.
Héctor Gandini, who lost a son in an accident last July after a semi’s second trailer slammed into the car in which they were traveling, claims 4,000 people have died in Mexico in the last four years in double-trailer accidents.
On average, he says there are 1,600 such accidents every year.
Gandini’s goal is to have the trucks banned from Mexico’s highways by the time President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term runs out next year. To support his argument against them he cites a study by the Association of Transport Engineering that a double-semi is 32 times more dangerous than a single.
The reasons? There’s a seven-second delay in the brakes being applied on the second trailer, there are multiple blind spots for the driver and the trailers themselves are used cast-offs from the United States, Gandini says.
He also points to lax regulations and enforcement and claims that pressure by business interests keeps the former to a minimum.
But as far as a representative of the trucking industry is concerned, double-semis are involved in fewer accidents. Leonardo Gómez, director general of the National Private Transport Association, said in an interview on Milenio Televisión that single-trailer trucks are involved in 12.6% of highway accidents and double-semis in just 2.7%.
Take away the double-trailers, he said, and there would be more truck traffic as a result. Gómez referred to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which found that that the double-semi is the best configuration, being safer, less harmful to infrastructure and the most environmentally friendly.
In response, Gandini charges that the accident figures have been falsified.
The president of the trucking firm Intermex blames accidents on regulations that have been poorly implemented and poorly enforced. Authorities fail to efficiently supervise, implement and punish according to transportation regulations, says Guillermo Berriochoa López.
Source: Milenio (sp)