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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-18-023
Synopsis: On March 7, 2017, a 2016 Van Hool motorcoach, operated by ECHO Transportation and occupied by a driver and 49 passengers, was traveling northbound on Main Street in Biloxi, Mississippi. The motorcoach stopped in advance of a highway–railroad grade crossing on Main Street that had a high vertical profile. The crossing warning system was not in active mode when the motorcoach approached, stopped, and then moved onto the railroad tracks. As the driver attempted to drive over the crossing, the frame of the motorcoach came into contact with the pavement, and the vehicle became stuck on the crossing. An eastbound freight train operated by CSX Transportation was approaching the crossing. The grade crossing warning system activated when the train was about 29 seconds away. As soon as he became aware of the approaching train, the motorcoach driver opened the vehicle’s loading door and told the passengers to evacuate. The train engineer put the train into emergency about 502 feet west of the crossing. About 14 seconds later, the train struck the left side of the motorcoach, pushing it 259 feet down the tracks before coming to a stop, with the motorcoach still in contact with the lead locomotive. Four motorcoach passengers died, the driver and 37 passengers sustained injuries, and 8 passengers were uninjured. The investigation focused on the safety issues of high-profile grade crossings and emergency egress and extrication. As a result of this investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) makes new safety recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Mississippi Department of Transportation, City of Biloxi, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, Association of American Railroads, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, and Class I railroads. The NTSB reiterates and reclassifies one recommendation to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: Issue an interpretation of the guidance practice for low ground clearance grade crossing warning signage in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways to suggest the use of other signage, such as vehicle exclusion signs, to address safety issues at high-profile grade crossings. Inform the state departments of transportation of the new interpretation.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Biloxi, MS, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY17MH010
Accident Reports: Preliminary Report: Highway HWY17MH010​Collision Between Freight Train and Charter Motorcoach at High-Profile Highway–Railroad Grade Crossing Biloxi, Mississippi March 7, 2017
Report #: HAR-18-01
Accident Date: 3/7/2017
Issue Date: 8/28/2018
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 4/25/2019
Response: We support your plans to review the MUTCD and issue the recommended signage guidance to federal, state, and local transportation agencies. Pending completion of these efforts, Safety Recommendation H-18-23 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
Date: 1/8/2019
Response: -From Brandye L. Hendrickson, Deputy Administrator: The FHWA plans to review existing language in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) and to issue, through FHW A division offices, guidance to Federal, State and local transportation agencies that Low Ground Clearance Grade Crossing (Wl0-5) warning signs and specific vehicle prohibition signs may be used together or independently to address safety issues at high-profile grade crossings. We anticipate completing these actions by September 2019.

From: NTSB
Date: 8/28/2018
Response: On August 7, 2018, the NTSB adopted its report Collision Between Freight Train and Charter Motorcoach at High-Profile Highway–Railroad Grade Crossing, Biloxi, Mississippi, March 7, 2017, NTSB/HAR 18/01. The details of the investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at Among the safety recommendations are three new recommendations issued to the Federal Highway Administration, which can be found on page 51 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response to If it exceeds 10 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.