The Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Wadala inspecting Audi Q3 MH-03-BS-4741 driven by Janhavi Gadkar has found the car’s left rear tyre burst after the vehicle collided with the taxi, and that the condition of the vehicle was “mechanically fit at the time of the accident”, according to officials.
With the last trial as a lesson, when actor Salman Khan’s lawyers took the defence that a sudden tyre burst caused restricted movement of the steering, which led to loss of control and an accident, the Mumbai Police has asked for specific doubts, if any, on tyre burst from the RTO.
The RTO is expected to give the final report on Wednesday, including notes from the car makers. Senior transport officials said the inspection report had found that “the crash was a manual error not a technical one”.
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“This (tyre burst) may be the most contentious point to be argued in the case and we are trying to build a watertight case against Gadkar,” said another senior official.
Gadkar was allegedly speeding and was under the influence of alcohol when her car collided with a taxi on the Eastern Freeway last week, killing the driver and a passenger.
RTO officials said the speed recorded on the Maruti Eeco taxi was between 60 and 65 km per hour.
The red Audi Q3, officials said, was relatively new and had clocked about 1,120 km, said the transport officials. They added that the Audi had not undergone company servicing even once.
“There are no skid marks on the road to indicate that there was a tyre burst before the collision. We checked the tyres of the Audi and they were in perfect condition. Though we have not been able to determine her exact speed yet, the tyre ply rating indicates that the tyre of the car can only burst at the speed of 240 km/h. The Audi left rear wheel might have scrapped something sharp on the railings resulting in the burst,” said a official. A tyre ply rating looks into the tyre’s capacity to carry air molecules and the pressure levels, which together determine their strength. The railings are the dividers at the Freeway, which have also been inspected.
Officials also suspect that the head-on collision between the Audi and the Maruti Suzuki Eeco took place at the right-most lane of the southbound carriageway of the freeway.
The report would also have the exact length of the skid marks left by the Audi, confirmed officials. “The skid marks are not long enough,” said an official, indicating that Gadkar “could have not applied the brakes in time before colliding into the taxi”.
The RTO officials, however, said the inspectors were called to the spot 12 hours after the collision. “We could not notice any other significant marks and the vehicles passing over the spot may have rubbed off any marks on the road,” said an official.
“The exact time of the incident recorded by the Audi is 12.55 am. The airbag control unit placed besides her engine sensed the intensity of the impact. What we have noted is that the de-acceleration was exceedingly high in this case,” said a senior RTO official. The Audi can move from 0 to 100 km/hour in six seconds, a company official confirmed.
Gadkar’s driving licence, the RTO has noted, shows that it is due to expire in March 2018. “We have asked for her licence to be be suspended after the incident,” said the official.
Gadkar has driven two cars previously, one of Maruti make and another a Skoda. She also told the investigators that she had driven cars while travelling or vacationing abroad.
“The airbags and seat-belt saved Gadkar’s life. Her seat-belt was completely locked,” an official added.
Officials from Audi have confirmed that at least two of their service chiefs are assisting two RTO officials in preparing the incident report in which their vehicle was involved.
“The Audi vehicle is sophisticated and has a chip on the car’s key that records all functions of the car but not the speed,” claimed an official. “The data keeps getting stored after every five minutes,” he added. The RTO and the Audi experts are now working on this key for a final report.