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Banks Peninsula Unimog Accident Court Of Inquiry

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

21 April 2005

Banks Peninsula Unimog Accident Court Of Inquiry Complete

A New Zealand Army Court of Inquiry, to determine the circumstances surrounding the Unimog accident on Banks Peninsula in August 2004, in which two soldiers lost their lives and another was seriously injured, is complete. The Court concluded that the most likely cause of the accident was momentary driver inattention.

The Court examined a number of possible causes of the accident, including road, vehicle and weather conditions. The Court in its investigation also used reports by the New Zealand Police and Land Transport New Zealand. Examination of vehicle and road conditions did not reveal any defects or irregularities that could have caused the accident, but a light dusting of snow on the road may have hampered the driver's view of the road-edge.

At the time of the accident the Unimog was part of a convoy of Army vehicles taking part in a training activity. The Court found that this was a well-planned and organised activity.

Colonel Sean Trengrove, Commander of the Burnham based 3rd Land Force Group, says that regular skill development in driver training occurs year round in locations selected to improve a driver's ability and confidence.

"In the operational environments we have deployed to, such as Afghanistan, East Timor, Bougainville and Bosnia, many of the roads are little more than goat tracks, and are often affected by extreme weather conditions. We need to prepare our soldiers to drive to the conditions they will encounter both in New Zealand and overseas," he says.

Recommendations from the Court of Inquiry are attached.

A review into all Driver training conducted by the Army, which was initiated in late February this year, continues.



The Court of Inquiry made a number of recommendations. These recommendations are listed below and the actions undertaken as a result of the Court's recommendations are also included.

* It is recommended that the Army review the number of transport related specialist staff at regionally based formation Headquarters in order to provide a greater level of technical advice and specialist transport management. Human Resource policy staff at Army General Staff are currently reviewing this.

* It is recommended that Army written Orders for transport be amended to include the direction that all road movement for activities involving two or more vehicles requires the delivery of written and/or verbal Road Movement Orders. Logistics policy staff at Army General Staff are drafting an amendment for inclusion in relevant written Orders.

* It is recommended that the contents of medical kits carried in all Army vehicles be reviewed to ensure they can better be used to assist personnel sustaining serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents. The Director of Army Medical Services will evaluate current medical kit content and amend the contents where necessary.

* It is recommended that Army Driving Instructors further emphasis the importance of correct positioning of vehicles on the road, particularly in adverse driving conditions. This recommendation has now been subsumed into the Army wide review into driver training. A copy of this Court of Inquiry has been provided to the team conducting the Army wide review.

* Additional to the Court of Inquiry, the Army's Engineering Authority was tasked to conduct a technical investigation into the performance of the Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) (fitted to all Army Unimogs). The technical investigation concluded that the system performed as it was designed to and that it withstood the force it was exposed to for longer than could have been expected for a cab not fitted with ROPS.

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