‘A fuel tank in a bus or in a commercial vehicle does not explode’

Global automobile major Volvo Bus Corporation has flown in a team of international safety experts to address public anxiety following two recent accidents involving its luxury buses, which burst into flames near Mahabubnagar in Andhra Pradesh and near Haveri in Karnataka.

Akash Passey, senior vice-president and a member of the multinational’s executive management team, told The Hindu that Volvo was the first to introduce the bus chassis concept 12 years ago, at a time when bus bodies in the country were built on chasses meant for trucks.

Issues over exits in bus

He admitted that the recent accidents had raised “issues about exits” in the Volvo buses. “We have four emergency exits, instead of two prescribed by the law in India.” He claimed that 10 of the 12 windows in a multi-axle Volvo bus were “breakable either with a hammer or a solid object with reasonable force.”

Referring to the speculation that the fire in the accidents could have been caused by the nature and structure of the fuel tank, Mr. Passey said, “A fuel tank in a bus or in a commercial vehicle does not explode.”

Could the doors of the buses have jammed after the accident, making it difficult for passengers to exit? “If the electrical system is still functioning,” Mr. Passey said, “the doors would be operable, and if there is no electricity the pneumatic mechanism turns free, which enables the doors to be pushed open. There is no such thing as a central locking system in these buses.”

“But if there is a high-impact accident, the doors can get deformed, which can cause them to get jammed.”

Mr. Passey admitted that the recent “high-impact accidents” had caused people “to lose a little bit of the trust” they had for the company. He attributed the erosion of trust to “circumstances” beyond the control of the company. “This is why we are also eagerly waiting for the comprehensive investigation into the accidents,” he said.

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