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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-12-023
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 HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: Work with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to establish performance and selection guidelines for state transportation agencies to use in developing objective warrants for high-performance barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects where barrier replacement has been determined to be appropriate. (Superseded by Safety Recommendations H-17-044 and H-17-045)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Superseded
Mode: Highway
Location: New York City, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
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: 11/13/2017
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Closed - Superseded)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FHWA
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: As a result of the 2011 New York City crash investigation, the NTSB made the following recommendations to the FHWA and AASHTO, respectively (NTSB 2012b): Work with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to establish performance and selection guidelines for state transportation agencies to use in developing objective warrants for high-performance barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects where barrier replacement has been determined to be appropriate. (H-12-23) Work with the Federal Highway Administration to establish performance and selection guidelines for state transportation agencies to use in developing objective warrants for high-performance barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects where barrier replacement has been determined to be appropriate. (H-12-25) Although new TRB projects address fixed objects within the clear zone (NCHRP 17-82) and safety performance-based guidelines for the RDG (NCHRP 15-65), they do not consider the adequacy of barrier systems to safely redirect commercial passenger vehicles.80 At the same time, it is apparent that the RDG does not properly capture the current fleet of commercial buses. Safety Recommendations H-12-23 and -25 are classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” The highway design community is increasingly interested in incorporating risk-based approaches to highway safety improvements, as demonstrated by recent initiatives of the AASHTO Technical Committee on Roadside Safety. A risk-based approach will help prioritize cost-effective solutions in selecting high-performance barriers to shield fixed-base point hazards. The AASHTO Technical Committee and highway design community did not consider a risk-based approach in responding to Safety Recommendation H-12-25 (NTSB 2012b). Therefore, the NTSB reclassifies both Safety Recommendations H-12-23 and -25 CLOSED—SUPERSEDED. The NTSB recommends that the FHWA work with AASHTO to develop recommended guidelines, using a risk-based approach, for state transportation agencies to use in formulating objective warrants for high-performance barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects where barrier replacement has been determined to be appropriate. At minimum, the guidelines should include factors such as the percentage of commercial passenger vehicle traffic, crash history, and shielding requirements associated with fixed-base point hazards. The NTSB makes a corresponding recommendation to AASHTO.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 2/27/2017
Response: We are encouraged to note that you continue to work with AASHTO to research and develop the recommended median barrier guidance called for in these four recommendations. Pending our review of the revisions to the Roadside Design Guide and your adoption of the resulting guidance, Safety Recommendations H-11-21 through -23 and H-12-23 are classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/28/2016
Response: -From Gregory G. Nadeau, Administrator: The FHW A has worked with the AASHTO TCRS to pursue research that will specifically address the concerns raised by the NTSB. Collectively, we believe the following research completed, forthcoming, and published through the NCHRP provides guidance for selecting high performance longitudinal barriers (roadside barriers, median barriers, and bridge railings) considering traffic volumes, vehicle size and weight, and crash experience. Details about this research are available on the NCHRP webpage at http://www.trb.org/NCHRP/NCHRP.aspx. • Recently Completed Research: NCHRP 22-21, Median Cross-Section Design for Rural Divided Highways and NCHRP 22-27, Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP) Update • Forthcoming Research: NCHRP Project 22-31, Recommended Guidelines for the Selection and Placement of Test Levels 2 through 5 Median Barriers • Published Reports: o NCHRP Report 638, Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation- Table 20 on Page 24 is an example of the objective guidance provided by Report 638. It relates the highway functional class, median width, and traffic volumes to Test Levels 2 through 5. The FHWA will continue to recommend this information be included in the next update of AASHTO's Roadside Design Guide (RDG). o NCHRP Report 711, Guidance for the Selection, Use, and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems- This report provides guidance on issues related to lateral placement, system length, anchorage requirements, transitions, and cost and maintenance. The information included in this report will help highway agencies use better designs and ensure appropriate placement of cable barrier systems to reduce serious injuries and fatalities. The AASHTO is responsible for publishing highway design criteria to be used by the States and has begun to rewrite the RDG. The FHW A has requested that AASHTO incorporate these research findings into the RDG, with special attention to these NTSB recommendations. When the next edition of the RDG is published by AASHTO, FHWA will review it and consider adopting it as a guidance document. In the meantime, the RSAP is available for States to use on a project-by-project basis or to develop barrier placement warrants suitable to their conditions. The RSAP includes factors that directly address the NTSB recommendations. We believe FHWA has met the intent of all these recommendations by collaborating with AASHTO to conduct research to update the RDG. We have also disseminated relevant information to our field offices and the States. We respectfully request these recommendations be reclassified as Closed-Acceptable Action.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 10/30/2014
Response: We appreciate your continued efforts with AASHTO to complete the research projects that provide the basis for the Roadside Design Guide (RDG) update. We note that members of your staff are participating on the RDG rewrite team and that, upon publication, you will consider adopting the new edition of this guide. As codifying the RDG will provide an authoritative single point of reference for state transportation agencies, completion of these actions as planned will satisfy Safety Recommendations H-11-21 through -23 and H-12-23. Accordingly, pending the revision of the RDG and its subsequent adoption, these recommendations remain classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/29/2014
Response: -From Gregory G. Nadeau, Deputy Administrator: The Federal Highway Administration (FHW A) Office of Safety worked closely with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Technical Committee on Roadside Safety (TCRS) on barrier issues to develop projects and pursue research through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). The following are recently completed studies that address the recommendations: • NCHRP Project, 17-44, Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and CrossMedian Crashes. The final report was received from the research team and is currently undergoing review for publication. • NCHRP Project 22-1 2(03), Recommended Guidelines for the Selection of Test Levels 2 through 5 Bridge Rails. The final report was received from the research team and is currently undergoing review for publication. • NCHRP Report 638, Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation. Published as an on-line report at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrprpt638.pdf. • NCHRP Project 22-21, Median Cross-Section Design for Rural Divided Highways. The final report was received from the research team and is currently undergoing review for publication. • NCHRP Project 22-25, Development of Guidance for the Selection, Use, and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems. Published as NCHRP Report 711 , Guidance for the Selection, Use, and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems and available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrprpt7ll.pdf. • NCHRP Project 22-27, Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP) Update. Published as an on-line report at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP22-27 FR.pdf. The AASHTO has begun the process to re-write the Roadside Design Guide (RDG). A team, consisting of TCRS members with FHWA representation, will edit each chapter. The individual chapter authors for the sections dealing with barrier design were asked to incorporate the research findings into the RDG, with special attention to the NTSB recommendations. When AASHTO publishes the next edition of the RDG, FHW A will review it and consider its adoption as an FHW A guidance document. Through collaborative efforts, the FHWA and the AASHTO TCRS advanced significant research as the various NCHRP reports demonstrate. Collectively, we believe these studies address the Board's recommendations to provide guidance for selecting high performance longitudinal barriers (roadside barriers, median barriers, and bridge railings) considering traffic volumes, vehicle size and weight, and crash experience. We respectfully request that recommendations H-12-23 and H-11-21 through H-11 -23 be classified as "Closed Acceptable Action."

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 1/11/2013
Response: We note that the FHWA is working with AASHTO to develop objective warrants for high-performance barriers. We look forward to receiving periodic updates on the several National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) projects that are currently underway to provide additional guidance for barrier selection. Pending the establishment of barrier performance and selection guidelines, Safety Recommendation H-12-23 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/12/2012
Response: -From Victor M. Mendez, Administrator: As noted by NTSB, the Roadside Design Guide (RDG) has limited guidelines on barrier test levels for redirecting larger vehicles, especially with respect to large Commercial Passenger Vehicles. Crash testing of higher performance barriers has been conducted with trucks and tractor-trailer combinations under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 350 and the AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware. The AASHTO has also noted that there are currently no criteria for crash testing barriers with buses, although TL-4 and TL-5 barriers increase the likelihood of redirection and a safer outcome. The NCHRP Report 638 "Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation" was the first effort to include route specific selection criteria for barriers up to TL-5 based on cost/benefit ratio, terrain type, highway functional class, and size of clear zone; however, there is no further breakdown by vehicle types or speeds. The following NCHRP projects are underway which we expect will provide additional guidance for barrier selection: • 17-44 "Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and Cross-Median Crashes" • 17-55 "Guidelines for Slope Traversability" • 22-12(03) "Recommended Guidelines for the Selection of Test Levels 2 through 5 Bridge Rails" • 22-22 "Placement of Traffic Barriers on Roadside and Median Slopes" • 22-27 "Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP)" As these studies are completed, we will work with AASHTO to provide additional guidance that the States can use to refine their selection criteria for high performance level barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects. Recommendation H-12-24: Until barrier testing has been completed, selection guidelines have been developed, and barrier guidance has been updated in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Roadside Design Guide, provide information to state transportation agencies about (1) the unique considerations associated with commercial passenger vehicle "run-off-the-road" accidents involving point hazards, and (2) the associated potential for catastrophic loss of life. A memorandum to the FHW A Division Offices providing this information, and asking that it be shared with appropriate State partners, was sent on October 4. A copy of this memorandum is enclosed. Based on the actions and outlined in this letter, we ask that recommendation H-12-23 be classified as "Open - Acceptable Action" and H-12-24 be classified as "Closed – Acceptable Action." Memorandum The purpose of this memorandum is to provide information concerning the safety issues associated with commercial passenger vehicle (CPV) crashes involving roadside point hazards, the associated potential for catastrophic loss of life, and the use of high performance level barriers to address the safety issues. Please share this information with your respective State DOT and encourage them to consider adding guidance on the use of higher performance level barriers (Test Level 4, 5, or 6) to their design policies or procedures that not only considers large trucks and tractor-trailer combinations, but also CPV s. While roadside crashes involving CPV s such as motorcoaches are rare, the proper selection of barriers along corridors that have high volumes of large CPV traffic may prevent future tragedies. Background The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated a crash which occurred on March 12, 2011, in New York City. At about 5:38 a.m., a 56-passenger motorcoach was traveling southbound on Interstate 95 and departed from the travel lanes to the right, driving over the rumble strips on the right shoulder edge, crossing over the 10-foot-wide paved shoulder, striking a strong-post W-beam guardrail, and 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 an overhead highway signpost consisting of two vertical 8-inch-diameter steel tubular poles linked by cross-beam diagonal metal supports. After the motorcoach struck the signpost, 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 tom 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-ta-minor injuries, and the bus driver received minor injuries. The NTSB believes that the substantial volume ofCPV traffic on this section of 1-95 should have been considered when locating the overhead sign support and in selecting the type of roadside barrier that was installed to shield it. While the likelihood of impact by a large CPV at anyone location is slight, the potential for loss of lives in a run-off-road crash should be considered. Discussion The strong-post W -beam guardrail shielding the support of the overhead sign bridge at the Bronx crash location was the G4(1 S) system with steel posts and steel offset blocks with the top of the tail mounted at approximately 28 inches. Because of the steel blockout, this barrier only qualifies as a Test Level 2 barrier under NCHRP Report 350. It is not expected to redirect large vehicles. The NTSB subsequently made the following recommendation: Until barrier testing has been completed, selection guidelines have been developed, and barrier guidance has been updated in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Roadside Design Guide, provide information to state transportation agencies about (1) the unique considerations associated with commercial passenger vehicle "run-off-the-road" accidents involving point hazards, and (2) the associated potential for catastrophic loss of life. (H-12-24) The NTSB has provided other recommendations on barrier selection concerning buses and trucks including: • H-12-23: Establish performance and selection guidelines for state transportation agencies to use in developing objective warrants for high-performance barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects. • H-11-23: Define the criteria for median barrier selection, including heavy vehicle traffic volume. • H-11-21: Establish warrants and implementation criteria for the selection of Test Level Four and Test Level Five median barriers. • H-09-17: Develop objective warrants for high-performance Test Level Four, Five, and Six bridge railings applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects. The AASHTO Roadside Design Guide (RDG) 4th Edition states," ... in certain locations it may be appropriate to utilize a higher performance barrier capable of redirecting large vehicles such as tractor-trailer combination trucks. Although objective warrants for the use of higher performance traffic barriers do not presently exist, subjective factors most often considered for new construction or safety upgrading include: • High percentage of heavy vehicles in the traffic stream or a high concentration of trucks at an interchange • Hazardous materials routes • Adverse geometrics, such as sharp curvature, which are often combined with limited sight distance, or long downhill grades with horizontal curvature • Severe consequences associated with penetration of a barrier by a large vehicle, such as multi-level interchange ramps, highly sensitive environmental areas, or critical highway components (nationally significant bridges or tunnels)." As noted in the RDG, current guidelines on barrier test levels for redirecting larger vehicles are minimal, especially with respect to large CPV s. Crash testing of higher performance barriers has been conducted with trucks and :tractor-trailer combinations under NCHRP Report 350 and the AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware. AASHTO has also noted that there are currently no criteria for crash testing barriers with buses, although Test Level 4 and Test Level 5 barriers increase the likelihood of redirection and a safer outcome. Guidance for high performance barriers NCHRP Report 638 "Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation" includes route, specific selection criteria for barriers up to Test Level 5 based on cost/benefit ratio, terrain type, highway functional class, and size of clear zone, however there is no further breakdown by vehicle types or speeds. As an example, the report recommends that Test Level 5 barriers are warranted at a benefit/cost ratio of2 when the following conditions are met: • Highway Functional Class is Freeway • Clear zone is wide (18 feet or greater) • Traffic volumeisgreaterthan2S;000 ADT. The following National Cooperative Highway Research Program projects are underway which we expect will provide additional guidance for barrier selection: • 17-44 "Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and Cross-Median Crashes" • 17-55 "Guidelines for Slope Traversability" • 22-12(03) "Recommended Guidelines for the Selection of Test Levels 2 through 5 Bridge Rails" • 22-22 "Placement of Traffic Barriers on Roadside and Median Slopes" • 22-27 "Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP)". As these studies are completed, we will work with AASHTO to provide more objective guidance that the States can use to refine their selection criteria for high performance level barriers.