27 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — An inquiry will determine if a truck’s cruise control led to the death of four Dutch youths in a traffic-jam accident on the E19 motorway between the Dutch border and Antwerp on Monday.
The victims were identified as two men aged 21 and 19 and two 20-year-old women. The 21-year-old man is almost certainly the brother of one of the women. All victims were from the southern Dutch city of Breda.
A police spokeswoman said the four victims were in a car between two trucks in a traffic jam on Monday afternoon. Another truck collided with the rear of the truck behind the car, which was then wedged up against the truck in front.
A police spokeswoman said it was believed the victims were not responsible for the accident. One of the truck drivers was severely injured in the collision, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Antwerp judicial authorities are now investigating the cause of the accident, calling in a traffic expert to determine if the use of cruise control in one of the trucks led to the fatal collision, Dutch news agency ANP reported Tuesday.
A prosecution spokeswoman said the results of the inquiry would be known at the start of next week and confirmed that inquiries into the possible use of cruise control would play an important role in the investigation.
Due to traffic works on the Antwerp ring road, warning signs have been placed dozens of kilometers further up the motorway before the Belgian city advising drivers to reduce their speed.
In response to several previous severe accidents involving trucks, Belgian MP Daan Schalck demanded last year that the use of cruise control in trucks should be banned. Discussion over the use of the cruise control has now flared up again.
The use of cruise control was also discussed in the Netherlands last year, but transport authority TNO claims that cruise control devices are now widely accepted.
Dutch traffic safety organisation 3VO has not raised objections either, claiming that cruise control helps contribute to a better flow of traffic and the efficient use of fuel.
Meanwhile, a truck driver was taken to hospital after being seriously injured in a accident at another Antwerp traffic jam further up the motorway on Monday. Both accidents happened near Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor on the Antwerp-bound lanes.
The motorway was closed off for several hours on Monday, leading to traffic jams extending for several kilometres. Traffic jams in the direction of the Netherlands also build up as motorists surveyed the scene on the other side of the motorway.
Much of Monday evening’s traffic was eventually diverted via the Dutch city Bergen op Zoom.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch + Belgian news