‘Tight schedules for trucks up the risk’

Swedish police have dismissed the theory that faulty winter tyres are to blame for Tuesday's massive car crash, which involved nearly 100 cars and killed one person, but say they have pinpointed the three trucks that initially collided.

'Tight schedules for trucks up the risk'

Arne Davidsson, head of the police investigation, said the domino effect collision began when three trucks heading north on the E4 on the low Tranarps Bridge ran into each other.

“We’ve been trying to figure out which vehicle is which so we can understand who was traveling in which truck,” he told the TT news agency.

He said the police had inspected almost all the trucks and cars involved in the crash, which caused chaos on the important motorway, but said suspicions that a lack of winter tyres was to blame seemed unfounded so far.

Driving conditions on Tuesday were hazardous due to dense winter fog and slippery roads.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) dismissed fingerpointing at foreign drivers on Swedish roads. Some critics had said they were less likely to change to high-traction tyres once winter arrives.

“It wouldn’t make any difference anyway,” said Trafikverket head of security Claes Tingvall.

“Even if they had the right tyres it wouldn’t have meant much. Those tyres are meant to help you advance and not get stuck.”

Other theories focused on speeding by professional long-haul truck drivers. Photographs from the chaotic scene showed a large number of lorries in the long pile-up on both lanes of the bridge near Helsingborg in southern Sweden.

Patrick Magnusson, traffic safety adviser at the industry organisation Sveriges åkeriföretag, does not think drivers are bad at adjusting to the road conditions, but admitted that many drivers, private car owners as well as truckers, should slow down.

“I can’t pretend that a lot of professional traffic doesn’t go to fast, it’s because the drivers are on very tight schedules.”

As long as they follow the three-second rule to keep their distance to the vehicle in front, he pointed out, the risks should still be low.

“Foreign drivers get an unfair amount of criticism. When it comes to the speed, they’re no worse than anyone else, but their trucks can be in a worse condition.”

TT/The Local/at

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Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port

UPDATE: A ferry that ran aground next to islands between Finland and Sweden with nearly 430 crew and passengers on board, was refloated and heading for port, its owners said Sunday.

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port
The Viking Line ship Grace hit rocks in in the Aland archipelago. Photo AFP

The Viking Line's “Grace” hit rocks on Saturday afternoon while sailing between the Finnish port of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm, shortly before a stopover in Mariehamn, in the Aland archipelago, Finland's coast guard said.

The passengers had to spend the night on board, though there was no immediate danger as it was not taking on water. No one was hurt in the incident.

A tug boat helped refloat the ferry in the small hours of Sunday morning, the coast guard said on Twitter.

After disembarking around 260 passengers at Mariehamn, it went on to its home port of Turku in Finland, a Viking Line spokeswoman told AFP Sunday. It would undergo repairs in the coming days, she added.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, the coast guard said there were strong winds in the area at the time.

The company cancelled its Saturday ferry service, which was to have been taken by a smaller vessel, because of a storm warning.

In September, another Viking Line ferry, the Amorella, ran aground on the same Aaland Island and the passengers had to be evacuated.