Sacramento readers no doubt remember the fatal crash between a bus and a FedEx truck that occurred in the spring of last year. On April 10, 2014, a motor coach filled with high school students was traveling on Interstate 5 near Orland, California. As the bus headed north, a FedEx tractor-trailer traveling south crossed over the 15-foot-wide median and struck the bus head-on.
Ten people lost their lives in the fiery crash, including five students, the bus driver, and the truck driver. Dozens more suffered injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating the fiery bus and truck accident for about 15 months and still cannot determine why the truck driver veered across the median as he did. The NTSB did confirm, however, that the accident would have likely been far less deadly had certain safety standards been in place for motor coaches.
According to the NTSB’s investigation, the deaths not related to impact forces were mostly related to fire and smoke. In short, changes need to be made to slow down the spread of fires and to speed evacuation. To that end, the NTSB recommended that:
- All new motor coaches are manufactured with a rear emergency exit like those found on school buses
- All new motor coaches should have their interiors trimmed with material that better resists burning (flame-retardant material)
- Motorcoach passengers should always be given pre-trip safety briefings on evacuation procedures like those given on airplanes
The NTSB is a respected government agency tasked with investigating most civil transportation accidents and making safety recommendations based on those investigations. Unfortunately, the agency has no regulatory authority of its own. Therefore, its recommendations too often go unheeded.
Source: USA Today, “NTSB urges second doors in wake of fiery bus crash that killed 10,” Bart Jansen, July 14, 2015