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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-05-005
Details
Synopsis: At 10:50 a.m. on October 13, 2003, a 1992 Neoplan USA Corporation 49-passenger motorcoach, owned and operated by the First Baptist Church of Eldorado, Texas, was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20 near Tallulah, Louisiana. The motorcoach, carrying 14 passengers, was en route from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as part of a multicity sightseeing tour that had originated in Eldorado. As the motorcoach approached milepost 168, it drifted rightward from the travel lanes and onto the shoulder, where it struck the rear of a 1988 Peterbilt tractor semitrailer operated by Alpha Trucking, Inc., which was stopped on the shoulder at milepost 167.9. As both vehicles moved forward, the motorcoach rotated clockwise slightly and the semitrailer rotated counter-clockwise slightly; the vehicles remained together. They traveled approximately 62 feet and came to rest, still oriented to the east, adjacent to the right side of the interstate on the outside shoulder. Eight motorcoach passengers sustained fatal injuries, the motorcoach driver and six passengers received serious injuries, and the Peterbilt driver was not injured.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Develop a method for inspecting motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages and revise the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Appendix G to Subchapter B, Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards, to require inspection of these anchorages.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Tallulah, LA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: hwy04mh002
Accident Reports: Motorcoach Run-Off-The-Road Accident
Report #: HAR-05-01
Accident Date: 10/13/2003
Issue Date: 4/27/2005
Date Closed: 6/5/2017
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 6/5/2017
Response: We are pleased to learn that you published the final rule, “Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Inspection, Repair and Maintenance; General Amendments,” on July 22, 2016. This rule satisfies the intent of Safety Recommendations H 05 3 and -5, which are both classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/27/2017
Response: -From Michael Jordan, Management and Program Analyst, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Report: Investigation – Tallulah, Louisiana (2003-10-13) Current Classification: Open – Acceptable Response Requested Classification: Closed Program Office: MC-PSV • As referenced above in the response to Safety Recommendation H-05-003, on July 22, 2016, FMCSA published a final rule, Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Inspection, Repair and Maintenance; General Amendments (81 FR 47722), in the Federal Register. (see Appendix B) • The final rule amended two appendixes to the FMCSRs to include provisions for the inspection of antilock braking systems (ABS) and automatic brake adjusters, speed-restricted tires, and motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages. • The final rule adopted FMCSA’s proposal to add a new section to Appendix G to require an examination of motorcoach seats during the conduct of a periodic inspection in accordance with § 396.17 to ensure that they are securely attached to the vehicle structure. • Given the wide range of seat anchorage designs, coupled with the lack of testing requirements specifically for seat anchorage strength in the FMVSSs, it is not practicable for FMCSA to develop a detailed methodology for the inspection of motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages. • FMCSA requests NTSB close safety recommendation H-05-005.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 9/15/2015
Response: We note that you have initiated rulemaking to revise appendix G, as recommended. Pending our review of the final rule when it is published, Safety Recommendations H-05-3 and -5 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 9/30/2010
Response: Notation 8248: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Announcement of Public Listening Session and Request for Comment, which was published at 75 Federal Register 53015 on August 30, 2010. The notice announced that the FMCSA planned to hold a public listening session to solicit input on key challenges facing the motor carrier industry, issues facing stakeholders, and concerns that should be considered by the agency in developing its next 5-year Strategic Plan. NTSB staff attended the listening session and provided the FMCSA with a list of open recommendations that have been issued to the FMCSA. The FMCSA also invited written comments, suggestions, and recommendations from all individuals and organizations regarding the FMCSA’s mission, vision, and strategic objectives (goals) for the plan. This letter provides a more detailed history of the currently open recommendations the NTSB has made to the FMCSA (attached), a summary of the key safety issues the FMCSA should address to improve truck and bus safety as presented during the NTSB’s April 28, 2010, testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security (attached), and responds to the questions most relevant to the NTSB’s mission for which the FMCSA is seeking input. Question 2. How can the FMCSA have a greater impact in the reduction of injuries and loss of life on our nation’s highways? The NTSB currently has 51 open recommendations that were issued to the FMCSA with the intent to improve safety on our highways. The implementation of these recommendations would allow the FMCSA to have both an immediate and lasting impact on reducing loss on our highways. We continue to believe that a plan to implement the recommendations on the NTSB’s Federal Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements (MWL) would significantly contribute to transportation safety. Question 5. How can the FMCSA balance driver-focused, vehicle-focused, motor carrier- focused compliance, interventions, and enforcement to achieve its safety mission? The NTSB has recommended that the FMCSA change the “balance” of its motor carrier oversight since 1999. The two most important factors related to safe motor carrier operations are the condition of the vehicles and the performance of the drivers. Current rules prevent the FMCSA from putting carriers out of service with an unsatisfactory rating in only one of the 6 rated factors. They must be unsatisfactory in at least 2 factors. In other words, they could be unsatisfactory in either the vehicle or driver areas and still be allowed to operate. The NTSB believes that an unsatisfactory in either category should be sufficient cause to place a carrier out of service. The NTSB recommended that the FMCSA do something relatively simple: change the safety fitness rating methodology so that adverse vehicle- or driver performance-based data alone would be sufficient to result in an overall “unsatisfactory” rating for a carrier. To date, the FMCSA has not acted on this recommendation. As a result, the NTSB added this recommendation to our Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The NTSB has been encouraged that the FMCSA is developing the CSA 2010 Initiative to include a greater emphasis on vehicle and driver safety. However, the NTSB is disappointed that the FMCSA did not make the incremental changes to the current safety system necessary to make either driver or vehicle deficiencies sufficient to affect the safety rating of a carrier. As such, the NTSB believes the FMCSA’s strategic plan should recognize the importance of getting carriers with unsafe drivers or unsafe vehicles off the road. Question 8. What technological changes could positively impact highway safety? The NTSB has recommended numerous technological improvements to both the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Two technologies, forward collision warning systems (FCWs) and electronic onboard recording systems (EOBRs), are currently on the NTSB’s Federal MWL. Both of these technologies have been available for the last decade and could have improved highway safety. More recently, the NTSB has recommended to NHTSA technologies for driver fatigue detection, stability control for buses, event data recording, and lane departure warning for buses. The implementation of these recommendations would significantly improve highway safety. Question 9. How will technology affect driver behavior? Well designed technology can improve driver performance. Current research by the FMCSA on vehicle based collision warning systems found improved driver performance as a result of technology. However, technology not designed for use in vehicles, such as cell phones, can distract the driver from the road. That is why the NTSB supported the FMCSA’s ban on texting. Further, the NTSB has included restricting bus drivers from using a cell phone on its Federal MWL. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this notice addressing concerns that should be considered in developing the FMCSA’s 5-year Strategic Plan. Many of the issues discussed here have been around for decades, and much is left to be done to improve highway safety. Prompt action is needed so that the trucks and buses that surround us on the nation’s highways are safely designed, maintained, and operated. We look forward to working with FMCSA in the near future to address the concerns presented in these comments.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 5/31/2007
Response: The Safety Board disagrees with the FMCSA’s belief that rulemaking to amend the periodic inspection standards under 49 CFR Chapter III, Subchapter B, Appendix G would be ineffective. At the Wilmer hearing, Mr. Minor again explained that the FMCSA is relying on the carrier to have appropriate vehicle maintenance practices in place in order to comply with the regulations, supported by passenger reports of problem seats and driver verification of seat securement during the pre-trip and post-trip inspections by gripping the seat back to see if the assembly moves. The Board’s investigation of the Tallulah, Louisiana, accident found that the current FMCSRs do not contain procedures or criteria for the inspection of seat anchorage securement in motorcoaches. Because no criteria or procedures are available for the inspection of motorcoach passenger seat anchorage systems, improperly secured motorcoach passenger seats are not likely to be identified during commercial vehicle inspections, leading to an increased risk of failure under higher forces, such as occur during an accident. Further, as previously stated in reference to Safety Recommendation H-05-3, the PMCP pamphlet developed to satisfy Safety Recommendation H-05-2 references the requirement to comply with certain parts of the CFR. Therefore, it is important that the FMCSRs be updated to offer complete information regarding seat anchorage inspection criteria to the PMCPs, allowing the carrier to understand these criteria and have the opportunity to comply. The Board agrees that a motor carrier in violation of the general safety standards in the FMCSRs should be cited; however, it is imperative that the motor carrier be given the opportunity to understand and comply with specific standards before being cited. Pending reconsideration of the FMCSA’s position on periodic inspection standards for passenger seat anchorage systems, Safety Recommendation H-05-5 is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 9/30/2005
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 10/11/2005 2:14:55 PM MC# 2050473: - From Annette Sandberg, Administrator: I am pleased to provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) response to the National Transportation Safety Board’s letter of April 27, 2005, regarding safety recommendations H-05-002 through H-05-005. I address each recommendation separately below. ### FMCSA does not believe a rulemaking to amend the periodic inspection standards under Appendix G to Subchapter B to include seat anchorage inspection criteria would be effective. As previously explained, the periodic inspection standards are applicable only at the time of inspection. After the inspector completes the periodic inspection and affixes a sticker to serve as proof the vehicle has passed the inspection with information about the date the inspection was completed and the availability of the inspection report the requirements of 49 CFR 396.17 are satisfied. This means that a motorcoach with seat anchorages in adequate condition at the time of inspection would pass the periodic inspection on a given date, and could subsequently exhibit cracks or other damage and continue to be operated in that condition without violating the periodic inspection rule. It is for this reason the Agency does not consider motor carriers’ compliance with the periodic inspection rule as an alternative to the requirement for a systematic inspection, repair and maintenance program. The periodic inspection rule is intended to serve as only one component of motor carriers’ vehicle safety programs. FMCSA believes existing inspection, repair and maintenance rules provide an effective prohibition against the motorcoaches with seat anchorages that are damaged or improperly fastened to the floor of the vehicle. Currently, motor carriers must ensure that all parts and accessories are in safe and proper operating condition at all times, as required by 49 CFR 396.3(a)(l). The parts and accessories that must be maintained include all items specified in 49 CFR Part 393 and any additional parts and accessories which may affect the safety of operation of the commercial motor vehicle. Therefore, if a motorcoach is being operated with seat anchorages that are in need of repair, the motor carrier may be cited for violating 49 CFR 396.3(a)(l) because the vehicle is not in safe and proper operating condition at any time it is being used to transport passengers while the seat anchorages need to be repaired. As the rules currently in place would prohibit damaged or improperly installed seat anchorages, the Agency does not believe a formal inspection procedure is needed. A visual inspection of seat anchorages combined with the inspector pushing and pulling on the seat should be sufficient to identify seats that are not properly fastened to the floor of the motorcoach. I respectfully request that this recommendation be classified Closed-Acceptable Alternate Action.