Concerns have been raised about the safety of new London Routemaster buses, after a judge ruled a computer glitch could have been to blame for a serious crash.
Bus driver Mohammed Khalique, 60, was left fighting to control his vehicle in September 2013 as his double decker careered through junctions at 40mph before colliding into the back of a car.
Three people were left seriously injured following the incident - including the bus driver and one passenger who broke his back – while 12 others suffered minor injuries.
Mr Khalique has now been cleared by Bexley magistrates court of driving without due care and attention, a charge he denied.
His defence claimed computer control systems managing the vehicle’s brakes had failed, plunging the bus into a dangerous acceleration.
However prosecutors accused Mr Khalique of mistakenly applying pressure to the gas pedal instead of the brake, while a Transport for London (TfL) report dismissed the likelihood of computer malfunction.
Expert witnesses instead told the court that electrical failure had been to blame for the lunchtime crash.
Mr Khalique told police that the engine isolator and brakes had been ‘completely dead’ as the bus sped up along Lower Sloane Street, careered through a junction and collided with a stationary vehicle on Chelsea Bridge Road.
Engineering reports have not highlighted any logged complaints of brake failure on the Routemaster vehicles, more than 800 of which are expected to be in service by 2016.
District judge Dennis Lynch described the crash as ‘truly terrifying’ but concluded he ‘cannot be sure that it was Mr Khalique at fault, rather than an unascertained, potentially crucial, computer glitch’.
‘I cannot be sure beyond reasonable doubt that it was your driving at fault,’ he told Mr Khalique.
TfL’s managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels, said: ‘New Routemaster buses remain a safe and valued part of the capital’s transport infrastructure.’