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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-01-030
Synopsis: On January 28, 2000, about 5:56 a.m. in Glendale, California, a tractor-combination vehicle, operated by Mercury Transportation, Inc., was transporting an oil refinery condenser unit. The vehicle missed a turn in its planned route, traversed a highway-railroad grade crossing, turned around, and was attempting to retraverse the crossing when it became lodged on the railroad tracks. About 90 seconds later, northbound Metrolink commuter train 901, operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, collided with the semitrailer. The engineer, conductor, and four passengers received minor injuries. Total damages were estimated to be over $2 million.
Recommendation: The NTSB recommends that the Federal Highway Administration: Develop a model pilot car driver training program. The training program should address, at a minimum, issues such as (1) how to conduct route surveys; (2) the maneuvering limitations of heavy-haul vehicles; (3) the effects of fatigue on performance; (4) the need to assess the dangers at railroad crossings, particularly for low-clearance vehicles; and (5) the need and requirements to notify the railroads before an oversize/overweight vehicle is escorted across a highway/rail grade crossing.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Exceeds Recommended Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Glendale, CA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY00FH027
Accident Reports: Collision Between Metrolink Train 901 and Mercury Transportation, Inc., Tractor- Semitrailer at Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing
Report #: HAR-01-02
Accident Date: 1/28/2000
Issue Date: 12/20/2001
Date Closed: 5/31/2005
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Closed - Exceeds Recommended Action)
Keyword(s): Fatigue, Rail Crossing

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 5/31/2005
Response: The Safety Board appreciates receiving the Pilot Car Escort Training Manual Best Practices Guidelines prepared by the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA), the FHWA, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) in response to this recommendation. The Board notes that the document not only addresses all five elements of the recommendation, including route surveys, maneuvering limitations, fatigue issues, railroad crossings, and highway-rail grade crossings, but also discusses other factors related to pilot escorts of oversize loads, such as permit review, vehicle and equipment checks, communication needs, and review of State-specific regulations and statutes. We commend the FHWA for its part in funding the effort and in coordinating with the SC&RA, the CVSA, and many other Federal, regional, and State agencies and associations to receive input and to increase awareness of the issues involved. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation H-01-30 is classified "Closed--Exceeds Recommended Action." The Board agrees with the FHWA that the training program has the potential, if adopted nationally, to ensure consistent training for developing pilot car escort skills and standards for pilot car escort operations. We encourage the continued efforts of all the parties that contributed to the preparation of this document in promoting its adoption nationwide.

From: FHWA
Date: 1/18/2005
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 1/24/2005 9:29:18 AM MC# 2050023 The FHWA worked with the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association (SC&RA) to develop a model pilot car driver-training program that addressed the five issues laid out in the NTSB recommendations. The scope of work included assembling a team of industry experts from National Pilot Car Associations and successful pilot car companies. The team also received input and feedback during the development of the training program from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), SC&RA, and several State enforcement agencies. The team also worked with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and regional permitting groups, including the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO), the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials (NASTO), Southern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO), and the Mississippi Valley Conference of State Highway and Transportation Officials (Mississippi Valley). The FHWA and its partners decided that bringing together the members of the community whose responsibility is the movement of oversize/overweight vehicles on the highway was the best approach to produce viable and functional products. The Pilot Car Escort Training Program, which this group created, is comprised of five components: (1) Pilot Car Escort Best Practices Guidelines, (2)Pilot Car Escort Training Manual, (3) Pilot Car Escort Study Guide, (4) Pilot Car Escort Training Test, and (5) Pilot Car Escort Training Power Point presentation. The program components can be used individually or partnered with one or more of the other components. The format offers flexibility to meet the needs of pilot car escort companies of all sizes. The Pilot Car Escort Training Program is intended to provide a foundation of knowledge for the professional pilot car escort by detailing the "best practices" for this industry. The program has the potential, if adopted nationally, to ensure consistent training for developing pilot car escort skills and standards for pilot car escort operations. The training provides valuable information to support the increasing demand for over-dimensional load movement teams. The flexible training format emphasizes the integral part that the trained pilot car escort plays on the load movement team charged with safely moving oversize/overweight loads across the Nation's highway transportation system. With this comprehensive training, trained professional pilot car escorts can be relied upon to execute their responsibilities with skill and competence. Increased self- confidence, industry pride, and professionalism are just a few of the many intangible benefits this program offers. The FHWA has been informed that at least five States that presently do not have an existing program in place for the training of pilot car operators are going to adopt the "Pilot Car Escort Training Program" as their State program. Enclosed are the three publications developed as a result of NTSB's recommendations. They are the Pilot Car Escort Best Practices Guidelines, Law Enforcement Escort Best Practices Guidelines, and Pilot Car Escort Training Manual. The FHWA believes that these documents, along with the extensive additional activities discussed above, have responded to the NTSB's recommendations. The FHWA respectfully requests that these recommendations be classified as Closed--Acceptable.