On Monday, the 3rd of October 2016, a freak accident involving the gearbox of a truck claimed the life of one unfortunate driver on the KESAS Highway. It is a sad and sobering reminder of how precarious our lives are, especially in a country where heavy vehicles are often poorly maintained.
The Killer Gearbox
At about 5 PM that day, a Hino truck was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Shah Alam when its gearbox coupling broke off. The 20kg coupling bounced off the road and slammed into a Mazda 5 SUV travelling on the opposite side of the highway.
Unfortunately, the force was so great that the gearbox coupling smashed right through the front windshield and hit the 47 year-old driver in his head, killing him instantly. His wife sitting next to him, and his young son who was in the rear seat narrowly missed being hit.
The coupling was later found in the trunk of the car. We can only imagine the amount of force with which it slammed into the car.
Take a look at the gearbox of the Hino truck, missing its coupling. The two parts were supposed to be secured with 8 bolts, two of which are visible in the picture below. We can only wonder how a properly-secured coupling can fall off…
It appears that the police believe that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the Hino truck driver. Selangor traffic police chief Superintendent Kamaludin Mohamad said, “We are classifying the case as reckless driving under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987“.
Could This Freak Accident Have Been Avoided?
When the story first broke, most assumed that the Mazda 5 SUV was travelling behind the Hino truck when it was hit by the broken gearbox coupling. Many netizens warned that this was yet another tragedy that showcased the risk of following trucks on the highway.
However, we now know that the gearbox coupling actually bounced into the opposite side of the highway. This was truly a freak accident, even if it actually involved an improperly-maintained truck.
When you think about it, the driver of the Mazda 5 SUV could not possibly have avoided such a tragedy. He was neither trailing the Hino truck, nor negligent in any way. Yet he paid the ultimate price… Our thoughts go out to his family.
We cannot know yet if poor maintenance was the reason for this freak accident, but short of a defect in the gearbox, that is likely to be the culprit. Whatever the final outcome may be, we hope that this tragedy will encourage owners of heavy vehicles to be more diligent in their maintenance.
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