Safety questioned at head-on crash inquest

Questions have been asked about the safety of a Peugeot car after the death of a middle-aged woman in a head-on collision.

Judith Evans, 56, died in the crash with a Vauxhall Vectra going home from work on January 20 last year.

The driver of the Vectra only suffered fractures to her kneecap and internal bruising.

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But Mrs Evans, a Chiltern Railways customer relations officer who drove a Peugeot 107, received injuries deemed by experts to be "not typical of the outcomes usually seen in such collisions".

They found that she died in accident circumstances in which an "efficient restraint system" – including a properly functioning seatbelt and airbag – is designed to provide good protection, an inquest into her death heard.

Vehicle Safety Consultancy Ltd (VSC) were asked by Thames Valley Police to consider the protection offered to Mrs Evans in the collision in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, after they noticed her injuries seemed unusually severe for the force of the impact.

Peter Gloyns, a mechanical engineer at VSC, told the inquest at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court yesterday that the car's restraint system did not appear to have worked as expected.

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He said: "The accident raises a serious question over the stability of the response of the total restraint system for an occupant of this build and weight in an accident of this severity in which it would be hoped that good protection could be offered."

Mrs Evans, from Aylesbury was bigger than many women, weighing 15 stone and measuring 5ft 9ins, the inquest heard.

Dr Gloyns suggested improvements may be needed to ensure that larger drivers get the same protection as slimmer ones.

Reading from the VSC report, he said: "It is recommended that the outcome of this accident be made known to the vehicle, seat belt and airbag manufacturers involved, so that their designers can consider what measures are needed to improve the total restraint system tolerance to different sized occupants."