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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-12-017
Details
Synopsis: On March 12, 2011, about 5:38 a.m., a 1999 Prevost 56-passenger motorcoach, operated by World Wide Travel of Greater New York, headquartered in Brooklyn, was traveling southbound on Interstate 95, en route from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, to New York City, and carrying 32 passengers. While in the vicinity of mile marker 3.2, the motorcoach departed from the travel lanes to the right, driving over the rumble strips on the right shoulder edge. The motorcoach then crossed over the 10-foot-wide paved shoulder and struck a strong-post W-beam guardrail, traveling about 480 feet alongside and on the guardrail, before finally overturning 90° onto its right side and flattening the guardrail. The front of the vehicle subsequently collided with a vertical highway signpost consisting of two vertical 8-inch-diameter steel tubular poles linked by cross-beam diagonal metal supports. The front roof also collided with a steel electrical box mounted to the sign support structure. After the motorcoach struck the support structure and electrical box, the two poles entered the passenger compartment along the base of the passenger windows as the vehicle slid forward. The impact resulted in the roof panel being torn from the bus body for almost the entire length of the bus. As a result of this accident, 15 passengers were killed, 17 passengers received serious-to-minor injuries, and the bus driver received minor injuries.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Include safety measurement system rating scores in the methodology used to determine a carrier’s fitness to operate in the safety fitness rating rulemaking for the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability initiative.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Unacceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: New York City, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY11MH005
Accident Reports: Motorcoach Run-Off-the-Road and Collision With Vertical Highway Signpost, Interstate 95 Southbound
Report #: HAR-12-01
Accident Date: 3/12/2011
Issue Date: 7/12/2012
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Open - Unacceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 12/4/2018
Response: This SR was reiterated as a result of NTSB Highway Accident Report, “Motorcoach Run-Off-the-Road and Overturn US Highway 83 Laredo, Texas, May 14, 2016.” Report Number HAR-18-03. Adopted on November 7, 2018 and published on December 4, 2018. Two key factors in safe motor carrier operations are the operational status of the vehicles (in this instance, the motorcoach) and the performance of the drivers. Increasing the weight of performance data for vehicle and driver factors in compliance reviews is important because such deficiencies are directly related to crashes. In its special investigation report on Selective Motorcoach Issues, the NTSB recommended that the DOT (NTSB 1999a)— Change the safety fitness rating methodology so that adverse vehicle or driver performance-based data alone are sufficient to result in an overall unsatisfactory rating for the carrier. (H-99-6) Safety Recommendation H-99-6 is classified “Open—Unacceptable Response.” When a compliance review identifies critical violations directly linked to a crash—such as driver hours of service—the FMCSA should either require the carrier to demonstrate a commitment to mitigating safety risks or put the carrier out of service. As a result of the investigation of a New York City motorcoach crash in March 2011, the NTSB made the following recommendation to the FMCSA (NTSB 2012): Include safety measurement system rating scores in the methodology used to determine a carrier’s fitness to operate in the safety fitness rating rulemaking for the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability initiative. (H-12-17) Safety Recommendation H-12-17 is classified “Open—Unacceptable Response.” The NTSB urged the FMCSA to move forward expeditiously on finalizing the safety fitness determination (SFD) process to help remove unsafe motor carriers and their drivers from the nation’s highways. Making CSMS scores an integral part of the SFD would provide a procedure by which the FMCSA could more directly and quickly shut down unsafe carriers. Because driver violations have been shown to be a clear indicator of crash risk, the SFD could address deficiencies in the current compliance review process by basing a motor carrier’s safety rating on violations of important safety-based regulations (as found in roadside inspections), which would help to keep unsafe carriers from continuing to operate. On January 21, 2016, the FMCSA published an NPRM to update the safety fitness rating methodology by integrating on-road safety inspection data with the results of carrier investigations and crash reports. The proposed SFD rule would facilitate updating a motor carrier’s overall safety fitness on a monthly basis. It would replace the current three-tiered system that provides rankings of “satisfactory,” “conditional,” or “unsatisfactory” with a single determination of “fit” or “unfit;” an “unfit” rating would require the carrier to improve its performance or cease operations. However, the NTSB is concerned that the language in the proposed rule, as written, does not fully address the intent of Safety Recommendation H-99-6, because the rating process may not appropriately value vehicle and driver factors in compliance review ratings. On March 23, 2017, the FMCSA withdrew its NPRM, citing a need to receive a Correlation Study from the National Academies of Science to enable it to determine what corrective actions are advisable, as well as the need to complete additional analysis before determining whether further rulemaking action is necessary to revise the SFD process. The NTSB is disappointed that the January 2016 NPRM has been withdrawn, further delaying improvement of the SFD process. In its report of a 2014 multivehicle collision on Interstate 88 near Naperville, Illinois, the NTSB determined that the delay in enacting SFD rulemaking has prevented the FMCSA from obtaining the additional tools it needs to more effectively address the safety risks posed by high-risk carriers (NTSB 2016b). As a result of the Naperville investigation, the NTSB reiterated Safety Recommendation H-12-17. In its report of a 2016 motorcoach crash in Livingston, California, in which a fatigued motorcoach driver allowed his vehicle to depart from its travel lane and collide with a signpost, causing the death of four passengers, the NTSB found that contributing to the cause of the crash were the failure of the motor carrier to follow adequate safety practices and the FMCSA’s lack of oversight, which allowed the company to continue operations despite known safety issues (NTSB 2017). The safety issues addressed in the Livingston crash included the inadequate federal safety ratings for passenger motor carriers with repetitive driver and vehicle violations. The NTSB reiterated Safety Recommendations H-99-6 and H-12-17 to address this unresolved safety issue. Had the FMCSA changed its safety fitness rating methodology to give appropriate weight to vehicle- and driver performance-based data, as the NTSB has repeatedly recommended, it would have had additional evidence before the Laredo crash that OGA Charters was a habitually unsafe carrier. The NTSB concludes that an improved safety fitness rating methodology would enable the FMCSA to better identify habitually unsafe carriers. Moreover, because of the inaccuracy of the compliance review safety ratings the FMCSA assigned to OGA Charters, the NTSB concludes that the Laredo crash further demonstrates the need for the FMCSA to implement an SFD methodology to expedite the process of shutting down unsafe carriers. The NTSB remains concerned about the delay in rulemaking and again reiterates Safety Recommendations H-99-6 and H-12-17 to the FMCSA.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 12/6/2017
Response: As noted in response to Safety Recommendation H-99-6, we are disappointed that you withdrew the SFD NPRM and that you have no immediate plans to continue rulemaking to address this recommendation. Further, we are concerned that your significant and continuing delay in enacting SFD rulemaking deprives you of the necessary tools to effectively address the safety risks posed by high-risk carriers, as indicated when we reiterated this recommendation in response to the 2017 Livingston, California, motorcoach run off-the-road accident report. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation H-12-17 remains classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 11/13/2017
Response: From the NTSB Highway Accident Report “Motorcoach Run-Off-the-Road and Collision with Vertical Highway Signpost, State Route 99, Livingston, California, August 2, 2016” HAR-17-03 Notation 57079: The NTSB is concerned that motor carriers with significant regulatory violations for drivers and vehicles are still receiving satisfactory and conditional ratings. The two key factors in safe motor carrier operations are the operational status of the vehicles (buses) and the performance of the drivers. Increasing the weight of performance data for vehicle and driver factors in CRs is important because such deficiencies are directly related to crashes. In a special investigation report on motorcoach issues, the NTSB recommended that the DOT (NTSB 1999): Change its safety fitness rating methodology so that adverse vehicle or driver performance-based data alone are sufficient to result in an overall unsatisfactory rating for the carrier. (H-99-6) Particularly when a CR identifies critical violations directly linked to a crash—such as driver hours of service—the FMCSA should require the carrier to demonstrate a commitment to mitigating safety risks or face being placed out of service. As a result of our investigation of the 2011 New York City motorcoach crash, the NTSB made the following recommendation to the FMCSA (NTSB 2012b): Include safety measurement system rating scores in the methodology used to determine a carrier’s fitness to operate in the safety fitness rating rulemaking for the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability initiative. (H-12-17) On January 21, 2016, the FMCSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the FMCSRs to revise the methodology for issuance of a safety fitness determination (SFD). The revision was intended to replace the current three-tier system of “satisfactory–conditional–unsatisfactory” with a single determination of either “fit” or “unfit.” Carriers deemed “unfit” would be prohibited by statute from operating in interstate commerce or transportation that affects commerce. The proposed methodology is based on a carrier’s on-road safety data in relation to five of the seven BASICs, an investigation, or a combination of on-road safety data and investigation information. When the NPRM was issued, the NTSB responded to the FMCSA that it remained concerned that the language in the proposed rule did not fully address the intent of Safety Recommendation H-99-6, because the rating process may not appropriately value vehicle and driver factors in CR ratings. As a result of the NPRM’s shortcomings and the limited progress of the FMCSA in implementing Safety Recommendation H-99-6, it is classified “Open—Unacceptable Response.” After the investigation of a multivehicle collision on Interstate 88 near Naperville, Illinois, the NTSB determined that the significant and continuing delays in enacting SFD rulemaking were depriving the FMCSA of the necessary tools to effectively address the safety risks posed by high-risk carriers (NTSB 2016). As a result of the Naperville investigation, the NTSB reiterated Safety Recommendation H-12-17, which is classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” On March 23, 2017, the FMCSA withdrew its NPRM to change the process for carrier SFDs and canceled its previously announced plans to develop a supplemental NPRM.73 The FMCSA stated that it may file a modified proposal if it determines that changes to the SFD process are needed based on suggestions from a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study, one of several provisions in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.74 The study is focused on reforming the CSA program and the safety measurement system methodology that drives the program. The FMCSA reported that it would assess “whether and, if so, what corrective actions are advisable,” then complete additional analysis before determining whether further rulemaking action should be undertaken. Immediately following the Livingston crash, the FMCSA issued an imminent hazard OOS order to Autobuses Coordinados to cease operations. However, the NTSB concludes that had the FMCSA changed the safety fitness rating methodology to give appropriate weight to vehicle and driver performance-based data, as the NTSB has recommended, it would have had additional evidence before the crash that Autobuses Coordinados was a habitually unsafe carrier. Further, because of the issues underpinning the CR safety ratings for Autobuses Coordinados, the NTSB concludes that the Livingston crash underscores the urgency for the FMCSA to move forward on implementing an SFD methodology to expedite shutting down unsafe carriers. The NTSB remains concerned about the delay in rulemaking and—considering the extended delay—reiterates Safety Recommendations H-99-6 and H-12-17 to the FMCSA. Additionally, Safety Recommendation H-12-17 is reclassified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/20/2017
Response: -From Michael J. Jordan, USDOT/FMCSA MC-PRS, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation: • FMCSA withdrew its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) on March 23, 2017. The withdrawal notice is attached for your information. • FMCSA stated during the status update meeting that, rather than move to a final rule, a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) would be the next step in the rulemaking process. However, after reviewing the record in this matter, FMCSA has withdrawn the NPRM and cancels its plans to develop a SNPRM. • FMCSA must receive the Correlation Study from the National Academies of Science (NAS), as required by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act; assess whether and, if so, what corrective actions are advisable; and, complete additional analysis before reinitiating rulemaking action to revise the SFD process. • FMCSA requests NTSB maintain the classification for safety recommendation H-12-017 as “Open – Acceptable Response.”

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 3/15/2016
Response: Reiterated on March 15, 2016 in the report NTSB/HAR-16/01-SUM concerning the January 27, 2014 crash in which a 2004 Freightliner truck-tractor semitrailer operated by DND International Inc. collided with stopped vehicles providing assistance to a disabled 2000 Volvo truck tractor semitrailer in the right lane of eastbound Interstate 88 near Naperville, Illinois. The NTSB has long been concerned about the continued delay in the progress of the SFD rulemaking. On January 21, 2016, more than 8 years after it initiated the project, the FMCSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the SFD in the Federal Register (FR). Although the NTSB is pleased that the FMCSA has finally published an NPRM, this is only the beginning of the rulemaking process, which is likely to take years to complete. Such excessive delays in the progress of safety-critical rulemaking are unacceptable. The NTSB concludes that the significant and continuing delays in enacting rulemaking on the SFD process are depriving the FMCSA of the tools it needs to use its data most effectively to address the safety risks posed by high-risk carriers. Therefore, the NTSB reiterates Safety Recommendation H-12-17.

From: NTSB
To: FMCSA
Date: 5/23/2013
Response: We are encouraged by the FMCSA’s efforts to release the safety fitness determination notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in 2013 and look forward to reviewing the NPRM to see how the safety measurement rating scores will be incorporated into the fitness rating methodology. In the meantime, Safety Recommendation H-12-17 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FMCSA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/27/2013
Response: -From Anne S. Ferro, Administrator: The FMCSA is currently involved in a rulemaking3 that would establish safety fitness determinations based on safety data from crashes, inspections, investigations, and violation history rather than just the standard compliance review. The specifics would be determined through a notice-and-comment rulemaking process to revise 49 CFR Part 385, Safety Fitness Procedures. Currently, the safety fitness rating of a motor carrier is determined based on the results of a very labor intensive compliance review conducted at the carrier's place of business. The compliance review is the Agency's primary intervention. Under CSA, FMC SA is implementing a broader array of progressive interventions, and making contact with more carriers. Through this rulemaking, FMCSA would establish safety fitness determinations based on safety data from crashes, inspections, investigations, and violation history rather than just the standard compliance review. This will enable the Agency to assess the safety performance of a greater segment of the motor carrier industry with the goal of further reducing large truck and bus crashes and fatalities. The notice of proposed rulemaking on safety fitness determination is scheduled to be released in 2013. Based on the information provided, FMCSA respectfully requests that NTSB classify Safety Recommendation H-12-17 as "Open-Acceptable."