London to Brighton Veteran Car Run fatal crash: Vehicle expert says it was ‘obviously dangerous’ to send route down Reigate Hill

November 14, 2017
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A veteran car expert has said that organisers of the Veteran Car Run should have known not to include Reigate Hill in this year’s route.

The event was passing through Reigate for the first time in 63 years on November 5 when a 1902 Benz, a silver Ford C-max, a Mercedes GLE and Fiat Fiorino were involved in a crash that saw four people taken to hospital.

One of the men who had been travelling in the 1902 Benz died from his injuries on November 7.

Bryan Goodman, 84, who lived on Reigate Hill for 50 years before moving to another part of the town and is an expert on veteran cars, has questioned why the hill was thought safe to use.

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He said that, in general, the 1902 Benz is a primitive model of vehicle and that, in his opinion, to send cars like that down a road as steep as Reigate Hill is “obviously dangerous”.

Mr Goodman said the cars that take part in the Veteran Car Run were built in the “experimental stages of automotive technology”.

He likened the decision to allow 300 cars built in the dawn of the automotive industry to travel down the hill, to trying to send 100 cavalry riders down a narrow London street.

Although Mr Goodman does not have knowledge of the exact car involved in the crash, he does own a similar vehicle, a single cylinder 1900 Benz motorcar, and said that vehicles of its type were not fitted with seatbelts.

He says that in the 50 years he lived on Reigate Hill he would never have taken his car down it due to fears over the reliability of the brakes.

The scene on Reigate Hill after the fatal car crash during the 2017 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
(Image: Steve Frank)

In fact, he was told that the car he now owns, having brought it in 1956, had itself been involved in a collision at the bottom of Reigate Hill in the early years of the 20th century, where it collided with the level crossing and lost a dashboard component.

Talking about the sort of cars produced in the early 1900s, he described them as “primitive” in terms of their brakes, seats and engines.

He also said that, due to the solid rubber tyres used on the vehicles, driving a car from that decade “was like driving a pram”.

However, he added that it was likely that the car involved in the crash was no longer fitted with its original brakes.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation by Surrey Police and it is not known at this time what type of brakes or wheels were fitted on the cars involved.

Martin Brown, communications officer for the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), which runs the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, also confirmed that the Benz that crashed would not have been fitted with seatbelts.

In response to questions about the safety of Reigate Hill, he said: “This run has been running since the 1920s and has had a good safety record overall.

“The roadworks in Brixton on the A23 meant that we had to divert the route to the A217 (Reigate Hill) and the route was tested carefully by veteran cars and a number of experts on a wet day in March.

“We are going to carry out a full review into the accident and look at everything that happened very carefully.

“Clearly we want to learn any lessons that can be learned from this tragic accident.

“We are providing any assistance that the police might need and we will be looking at the run as a whole to see what lessons can be learned.”

Following the accident four people were taken to hospital and according to event’s organisers the other occupants of the Benz are now “on the mend”.

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Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/london-brighton-veteran-car-run-13898399


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