Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Dubai every year from all over the globe including, from within the GCC. Due to its close proximity to the UAE, many tourists visit Dubai from the Sultanate of Oman. While some choose air travel for the short hop, many still use the well-linked roadways to make the same journey. One of the more popular amongst those is a bus service operated by Mwasalat, a locally-owned firm base in Oman. Unfortunately, one of those scheduled services turned fatal for many passengers when their bus struck a heavy-duty street sign.
The bus was operating as scheduled from Muscat, Oman to Dubai, United Arab Emirates as service EO5. The vehicle, carrying 31 souls on board was being driven by a middle-aged man who, due to his lack of attention, entered an incorrect lane which was never meant for big vehicles such as a bus. To make matters worse, the driver seems to have been oblivious to several warning signs preceding the actual impact point. The police said that the road has clearly marked signs to avoid such very mistakes from escalating further.
However, as fate would have it, it seems that the driver of the bus failed to take into account any of signs which would have certainly prevented the tragedy. Authorities had placed a noticeable road bump, clear height restriction posts, and a huge maximum height sign to warn drivers of large vehicles that exceed 2.2 metres in height. Tourist buses often have an expansive windscreen to allow for maximum visibility, but as it turns out, this innate feature was also rendered useless. During their investigation, Dubai Police discovered that the driver had installed an aftermarket curtain to shield himself from sun glare. This seemingly harmless addition proved detrimental, since the curtain prevented the driver from noticing the low-hanging height restriction sign over the road.
The preliminary investigation also found clear evidence that the bus was travelling faster than 40 km/h, which was over the speed limit prescribed for that road. This proved to be the final nail in the coffin and sealed the fate of many passengers on board. Just moments before the collision, the driver caught sight of the massive, low-hanging height restriction sign. In a desperate attempt to avoid hitting it, he turned the bus hard to the right. However, it was too little too late. The sheer mass of the bus meant that inertia took over, and coupled with the slow responding brakes and high momentum, the bus struck the signboard.
The relatively weak structure of the bus provided little resistance to the heavy-duty sign post as it smashed through the upper section with ease. And because the driver swerved, he inadvertently exposed the weak, glass-covered side of the bus to the fixed structure. Tragically, the sign post pierced straight through the windows, eventually striking the tourists who would have been unaware of the danger. Of the 31 passengers that the bus was carrying, 17 were killed on the spot upon impact, meanwhile a further 9 passengers with serious injuries had to be rushed to the hospital.
Mwasalat, the operator of the tourist bus said, “The company will suspend all trips on the Muscat-Dubai route until further notice starting from today and until further notice, after coordinating with the road and transportation authority in Dubai, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause” The Muscat-Dubai route was one of the most popular ones for the operator, and had up to three services every day. The Dubai Police pinpointed the accident site to the Rashidiya exit, right next to the metro station and along the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road.