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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-07-002
Details
Synopsis: On September 23, 2005, a 1998 Motor Coach Industries, Inc., 54-passenger motorcoach, operated by Global Limo Inc. (Global), of Pharr, Texas, was traveling northbound on Interstate 45 (I-45) near Wilmer, Texas. The motorcoach, en route from Bellaire to Dallas, Texas, as part of the evacuation in anticipation of Hurricane Rita, was carrying 44 assisted living facility residents and nursing staff. The trip had begun about 3:00 p.m. on September 22. Fifteen hours later, about 6:00 a.m. on the following day, a motorist noticed that the right-rear tire hub was glowing red and alerted the motorcoach driver, who stopped in the left traffic lane and then proceeded to the right shoulder of I-45 near milepost 269.5. The driver and nursing staff exited the motorcoach and observed flames emanating from the right-rear wheel well. As they initiated an evacuation of the motorcoach, with assistance from passersby, heavy smoke and fire quickly engulfed the entire vehicle. Twenty-three passengers were fatally injured. Of the 21 passengers who escaped, 2 were seriously injured and 19 received minor injuries; the motorcoach driver also received minor injuries.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Revise the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations at 49 CFR 393.205 to prohibit a commercial vehicle from operating with wheel seal or other hub lubrication leaks.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Wilmer, TX, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: hwy05mh035
Accident Reports: Motorcoach Fire on Interstate 45 During Hurricane Rita Evacuation
Report #: HAR-07-01
Accident Date: 9/23/2005
Issue Date: 6/27/2007
Date Closed: 9/4/2008
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 9/4/2008
Response: The Safety Board notes that the FMCSA developed a technical brief to document the generally recognized causes of bus fires. This brief has been included in the Passenger Vehicle Inspectors Course to provide an overview of conditions that indicate a potential or present danger of a bus fire and that should be more closely examined during a roadside inspection. The Board further notes that FMCSA staff participates in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA’s) Passenger Carrier and Vehicle committees; the Board is aware that these committees developed new out-of-service criteria, published in the most recent version of the CVSA’s North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria, at Section 12. Wheels, Rims and Hubs, Subsection i, Hubs, effective as of April 1, 2008, that provide uniform enforcement tolerances relating to 49 CFR 393.3(a)(1), 396.5, and 396.7 to ensure that vehicles with a leaking wheel seal and/or any visible or measurable amount of lubricant showing in the hub are removed from service during commercial vehicle inspections. These efforts represent an alternate means of increasing CMV carrier, driver, and inspector awareness of the problem and enforcing the prohibition of CMVs operating with lubrication leaks. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation H-07-2 is classified CLOSED -- ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION. Member Hersman and Member Higgins did not concur with this classification. They believe that Safety Recommendation H-07-2 should be classified either Closed Reconsidered or Open Unacceptable Response.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/3/2007
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 12/3/2007 3:13:06 PM MC# 2070701: - From John H. Hill, Administrator: The FMCSA agrees with safety recommendation H-07-02, which recommends the Agency prohibit the operation of CMVs with wheel seal or hub lubrication leaks. The Agency believes its current inspection, repair and maintenance regulations already prohibit this unsafe practice by motor carriers. Section 49 CFR 396.5 requires that every motor carrier operating CMVs in interstate commerce ensure that each vehicle subject to its control is properly lubricated and free of oil and grease leaks. Therefore, any motor carrier that requires or allows one of its vehicles to be operated with an oil or grease leak may be cited for violating 49 CFR 396.5. The Agency’s technical staff is actively engaged in several activities focusing on expanding motor carriers’ and drivers’ awareness of the special safety concerns of wheel seal and other hub lubrication leaks, as well as other fire concerns specific to motorcoaches. FMCSA developed a Technical Brief on bus fires to document the generally recognized causes of bus fires. This Technical Brief has been included in the Passenger Vehicle Inspectors Course to provide an overview of conditions that are indicative of a potential or present danger of a bus fire and that should be more closely examined during a roadside inspection. Also, FMCSA staff participates in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Passenger Carrier and Vehicle committees, both of which are considering the development of new out-of-service criteria for wheel seal leaks. The new criteria would provide uniform enforcement tolerances for 49 CFR 396.5 to ensure that vehicles with certain oil or grease leaks are removed from service during motorcoach inspections. Based on the above, FMCSA requests that Safety Recommendation H-07-02 be classified as Closed Acceptable Response.