Thirteen cars crushed as HGV loses control on city Ring Road

An accident in Kazakhstan took two lives and resulted in 13 crushed cars as an HGV runs out of control due to failed brakes on Almaty’s Eastern Ring Road.

The Chinese built Dong Feng tipper truck was travelling at speed along the newly constructed Eastern Ring Road which skirts the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan when its brakes failed as it approached traffic congestion.

The accident occurred at 15:30 on 29th September when the HGV first collided with the rear of a Mercedes car travelling in the same direction, pushing the car out of the way before ramming several more cars on the same carriageway. In an attempt to avoid further carnage, the tipper truck driver swerved to the left, breached ten metres of decorative wrought-iron railings which separate the carriageways and collided head-on with an oncoming Mercedes car before coming to rest.

Two cars, a northbound Subaru Impreza and the southbound Mercedes 190E on the oncoming carriageway were crushed so extensively that both drivers died instantly and emergency services took several hours to remove their bodies from the wreckage and clear both carriageways. Both men were local aged 25 and 60 respectively. Most of the other cars were parked and uninhabited at the time of the collision.

According to the Chief of Traffic Police in the city, Saltanat Azirbek, the driver of the HGV was a 30-year old man from the nearby town of Talgar who was transporting soil at the time of the accident and has been detained in custody while further investigations take place. He currently faces charges of causing the deaths of two or more people as a result of failing to observe road traffic regulations for which he could face a jail term of up to ten years if found guilty.

At the heart of this tragedy lies the question of the build quality and maintenance of Chinese heavy goods vehicles. Despite the fact that there is nothing to suggest that lorries of Chinese origin have inadequate braking systems, there is a dismal history of accidents involving Chinese lorries in Kazakhstan where brakes have failed with devastating consequences.

Brake failure on a Howo truck was registered as the cause of a collision in August of 2009 in which 11 pedestrians waiting at a bus stop were killed when the HGV ran into them at speed. Two people were killed in July 2011 when a similar vehicle lost its brakes and ploughed into two buses and a passenger car in the same city.

Lorries of Chinese origin are popular with smaller businesses in the Central Asian republic because the initial purchase price is low. However, once these vehicles age, maintenance becomes critical to their safety and is often chronically neglected. Kazakhstan’s roads have many such aging Chinese lorries pumping black smoke into the atmosphere and displaying tyres worn down to the cords. With such visible signs of neglect, it is little wonder that the brakes are similarly neglected. According to the law, all operational heavy goods vehicles in the country must undergo technical inspections once every six months to ensure their roadworthiness. However, it is widely known that technical inspection certificates are seen as a commodity by dishonest truck operators which can be easily obtained.

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