RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Christopher P Webster, Coroner
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
FIND THAT :
The deceased died on the 20 October 2005 at Midlands Highway Bagdad.
The deceased was born in Manilla, Philippines on the 01 June 1950 and was aged 55 years. He was a married man whose occupation at the date of death was bottle shop attendant and security.
I find that the deceased died as a result of head injuries following a motor vehicle collision.
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH :
The deceased had left his home address at St Helens and was on his way to Huonville where he had gained part time employment. He was driving his 1991 Toyota Lexen Sedan. According to his wife he was fit and healthy. He had travelled the route from St Helens to Huonville on many previous occasions. He would usually leave on the Thursday morning and take the same route each time. He was considered a cautious driver and was known to be particular about keeping to the correct speed limits. He had a speed alert fitted to his vehicle which he used and adjusted frequently depending on the speed zone he was travelling in. As he approached the township of Bagdad and entered the 80 Km/h zone he was following three other vehicles. All vehicles including the deceased, slowed to the required speed limit or less. The front vehicle, a 1990 Toyota Hi-Lux, flat tray four wheel drive was being driven by Jonathon Wayne Lang of Kempton who was on his way to Bagdad to assist a friend in relation to a motor vehicle breakdown. He slowed down and placed his right indicator on with the intentions of turning into Iden Road. The two vehicles immediately behind him, passed him on the left as he was slowing. He then came to a stop and observed the deceased’s vehicle not slowing or passing on the left and braced himself for what he believed was an inevitable rear end collision.
The deceased failed to manoeuvre around the flat tray. The tray pierced through the driver’s side of his vehicle, causing fatal head injuries. A number of witnesses to the accident observed the deceased’s vehicle travelling south. They recounted the deceased’s vehicle not attempting to slow or drive around the stationary flat tray. There were no skid marks prior to the collision, again indicating that the deceased drove straight into the rear of the stationary vehicle without braking.
The accident occurred on a section of the highway that runs in a basic north/south direction. Both vehicles were south bound. The section of road was straight and open for both north and south bound traffic. There is one lane for north bound traffic and one lane for south bound traffic. At the crash site both lanes are separated by parallel double broken white lines. There are painted road edge marks and gravel verges on both sides of the highway. The road markings and painted edge lines were in good condition, clear and unobstructed. The highway is of bitumen surface and also in good condition. There is no turning lane for vehicles intending to turn right into Iden Road. All vehicles intending to make that manoeuvre are required to pull as close as possible to the centre and stop to give way to oncoming traffic. All vehicles following must either stop or drive around the left side of the stationary vehicle, causing them to enter a gravel verge of 3.7m.
The vehicles involved in the accident were inspected by Malcolm Cooper a Transport Inspector employed by the Department of Infrastructure Energy and Resources. He found that both vehicles were in a well-maintained and roadworthy condition prior to the accident.
A post-crash inspection of the area of roadway where the accident occurred was conducted by Simon Buxton of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, Roads and Public Transport section. Iden Road is a no through road and is very lightly trafficked. He concluded that the installation of a junction ahead warning sign may assist motorists to better anticipate right turning vehicles at this location. He further noted that there is sufficient trafficable width of roadway to allow a vehicle to safely pass down the left hand side of a right turning vehicle, but from the southbound approach, by bridging the two wider sections of sealed shoulder opposite Iden Road may further assist southbound through traffic.
The recommendations made by Mr Buxton will be implemented by his Department. I concur with those recommendations.
At the time of the collision the weather was fine and road surface dry. Driving conditions were good and there is no evidence to indicate that either the road surface or driving conditions contributed to the accident in any way. The Toyota Hilux was clearly seen by other drivers slowing and coming to a stop to make the right hand turn. There is no evidence to indicate why the deceased did not see the Hilux slowing and eventually stop. A toxicology examination after death resulted in no alcohol or drugs having been consumed prior to the collision. He had no known medical conditions which may have contributed to his death.
COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS :
From the information before me I am satisfied that a full and detailed investigation has taken place concerning the death of the deceased and there are no suspicious circumstances.
There is no evidence to find that the driver of the other vehicle Mr Lang caused or contributed to the accident in any way. He slowed down, pulled as close to the centre as possible, placed on his indicator and after the collision returned a negative alcohol reading.
On the evidence before me I am satisfied that this unfortunate accident has been caused by the inattention of the deceased for failing to keep a proper look out. The reasons for that inattention is unknown. His wife has suggested that he regularly changed his speed alert and may well have been doing that at the time. There is no evidence to support her theory.
I recommend that the changes to the Iden Road junction detailed in the report of Mr Buxton and highlighted earlier in the finding, be carried out without any further delay, by the responsible department.
Before I conclude this matter, I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.
This matter is now concluded
DATED : Wednesday, 5 April 2006 at Hobart in the state of Tasmania
Christoper P Webster