Bus crash kills 17 after vehicle ploughs into overhead sign Thursday 6 June 2019

 (Story Credit: www.thenational.ae)

The Oman-registered bus – a Mwasalat vehicle taking people between Dubai and Muscat – was travelling on Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road, carrying 31 passengers, when it crashed into a signboard at Al Rashidiya exit at 5.40pm.

Initial investigations revealed that the Omani driver, in his fifties, took a lane that is not designated for buses. Police said he failed to spot several warning signs, a road bump and a height restriction chain, which alerts drivers that their vehicle exceeds the permitted height.

Eventually seeing the maximum-height sign protruding over the road, the driver swerved to avoid crashing into it, causing the sign to cut through the roof of the left side of the bus.

(Picture Credit: Khaleejtimes.com)

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During questioning, the driver, who sustained light injuries, said he had not seen the warning signs because he had installed a small curtain on his windshield to protect his eyes from the sun.

Police said the impact of the collision on the bus indicated that the driver was exceeding the speed limit of 40kph on that road. In an image released by police, the roof of the left-hand side of the bus appeared to have been severely damaged while the right side was mostly still intact.


The damage caused to the bus was substantial, the outline shape of the obstruction (shown below) is clearly visible as it ripped through the front and left side of the bus.

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(Picture Credit: www.thenational.ae)

It seems to me that the design of this road sign placed an unnecessary hazard in the path of oncoming vehicles.  The obstruction that the bus collided with was constructed of solid steel pipe, of the type that might be used to carry large volumes of oil or water.  However it is clear that this substantial steelwork served no useful purpose other than to serve as a structure to mount a small 2.2m warning sign.

Granted it was painted in red and white stripes and granted also that the police allege the driver had been negligent.  But surely a height restriction should only serve as a warning of an impending hazard ahead?  In this case it seems that the warning sign itself IS the only hazard on that stretch of road.

Many alternative designs exist which could have prevented such a tragedy, for example:

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In the above design, a collision with the sign would not result in catastrophic damage to the vehicle and the consequent loss of life as the gates would simply swing open.  Doubtless the vehicle would suffer some minor damage, but nevertheless it could be brought safely to a stop with no injuries to the passengers.

It seems to me that when it comes to road furniture and signage, the designers and developers need to ask themselves what are they really trying to achieve?  A warning sign that is capable of ripping out the side of a bus, seems to be poorly thought through and over-engineered.

I feel that such examples pose a real hazard which should be urgently identified by UAE municipalities, to prevent further tragedy of this type happening again.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Woolford