Safety campaigner calls for independent scrutiny of fatal Skoda

Buckinghamshire Senior coroner Crispin Butler should have commissioned an independent examination of the Skoda Octavia that appeared to be unable to stop before it slammed into a lorry, says a New Zealand-based safety campaigner.

Kaushal Gandhi, 32, died when his Octavia slammed into the back of a stationary lorry at 94mph, after calling police to report that the cruise control on his vehicle had jammed on and that he was unable to stop the vehicle.

New-Zealand based road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, whose road safety research received an award from the Australian Police Journal, says the fatal vehicle’s safety systems should have been independently inspected before the inquest.

“When a plane crashes, the wreckage is examined by independent experts. The people who built the plane are not allowed to interfere. Yet, when a car crashes in a way that suggests a possible fault with the vehicle’s safety systems, the company that built the vehicle appears to have been left to examine the wreckage and report to the coroner.”

“Skoda is owned by Volkswagen. To entrust Volkswagen to examine the fatal vehicle inevitably invites a conflict of interest.”

Martin Clatworthy, a vehicle safety specialist for Volkswagen, which owns Skoda, told the inquest:

“There is no indication that there was any error or problem with any of the electronic systems of the car in the five seconds leading up to the collision.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“I’m not calling My Clatworthy a liar; he may well be telling the exact truth. However, Volkswagen has admitted lying to government agencies in the past. Volkswagen’s representative stated to the coroner that there were no faults with his company’s vehicle. Surely it’s naïve to take this statement on face value.”