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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-68-012
Details
Synopsis: AT 8:10 A.M. ON OCTOBER 2, 1967, A SCHOOL BUS CARRYING 13 CHILDREN TO SCHOOL, TRAVELING EAST ON COUNTY ROAD 29 NEAR WATERLOO, NEBRASKA, WAS DRIVEN ACROSS AN UNPROTECTED HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSING 1/ AND WAS STRUCK BY A WESTBOUND UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD TRAIN. THE TRAIN, COMPOSED OF A LOCOMOTIVE, 96 EMPTY FREIGHT CARS AND A CABOOSE, WAS TRAVELING AT 56 M.P.H. THE LOCOMOTIVE STRUCK AND HELD THE RIGHT REAR QUARTER OF THE BUS, DRAGGING IT BACKWARD, AND THEN DEFLECTED IT INTO A COMMUNICATIONS POLE. THE REAR OF THE BUS BODY WAS DISINTEGRATED. FOUR OF THE CHILDREN ON THE BUS WERE KILLED AND THE OTHER NINE INJURED. THERE WERE NO OTHER FATALITIES OR INJURIES IN THE ACCIDENT.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: ESTABLISH A VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD TO PROTECT DRIVER VISION AGAINST EXTERNAL SUN GLARE.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Waterloo, NE, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79559
Accident Reports: ​Waterloo, Nebraska, Public School, School Bus and Union Pacific Railroad Company Freight Train Accident
Report #: HAR-71-01
Accident Date: 10/2/1967
Issue Date: 9/18/1968
Date Closed: 7/17/1975
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/23/1974
Response: FHWA LETTER UPDATES STATUS OF JULY 1974. SINCE THIS RECOMMENDATION WAS ISSUED, FHWA HAS REORGANIZED AND NHTSA IS INVOLVED IN RESEARCH CONCERNING GLARE PROBLEMS AND HAS A NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING TO UPDATE STANDARD FMVS #107. THREE STUDIES HAVE BEEN COMPLETED ON "GLARE AND DRIVER VISION" AND ANOTHER ON "HARDWARE AND PROCEDURES FOR MEASURING GLARE FROM REFLECTING SURFACES." A FIFTH PROPOSED STUDY IS ENTITLED "PROPOSAL FOR THE EVALUATION OF GLARE REDUCTION TECHNIQUES." FHWA IS NO LONGER DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THIS TYPE OF RESEARCH.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 1/7/1970
Response: Notation 344A: Reference is made to the Federal Highway Administration’s proposed rulemaking in Docket Number 69-14, Notice I, concerning horns and other audible warning devices for highway vehicles. It is highly desirable that warning be both deliverable and receivable, in many operations of highway vehicles, and the consideration of this subject is very welcome. The Safety Board wishes to call attention to our prior recommendation regarding this subject. In our reports of the grade-crossing accident at Sacramento, California, and Waterloo, Nebraska, we recommended that “FHWA study the questionable audibility of external sound signals within motor vehicles, both in relation to grade-crossing signals and train horns, and for all other audible warnings which can assist a driver. Such a study should be executed in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration, and should be aimed toward creating a unified system of warnings and reliable reception which could be made effective through Federal regulation and State laws.” From the wording in Docket Number 69-14, it appears that our recommendation may not have been considered in the framing of the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM). The question of the audibility of external signals in other vehicles is discernible in the ANPRM only by implication. There is no indication of any concept of a unified system intended to address the entire problem of existing unreliable audible warnings, and of course that includes a warning systems by means other than audio signals. We believe it is necessary to define the conditions under which warnings are to be receivable, and the definition of these conditions is a substantial task which should precede the final notice of proposed rulemaking for standards for transmitting devices. Among the conditions which should be considered are (1) pedestrians and drivers of varying hearing ability (no State prohibits totally deaf drivers); (2) Interference within signals due to competing signals of other traffic; (3) reception interference caused by engine noise or noise of the receiving vehicle, radio sounds, air conditioner operation, children’s shouts or pet noises, and complete closing of the vehicle window. To meet these problems, the Board has been advised of a number of possible devices including such no radio-operated warning, external sound and sound filtering devices, dash methods. Many of these devices would involve modification of the receiving vehicle, whether the ANPRM… text unreadable…. It should also be observed that warning problems entirely made by audible signals will necessarily increase noise pollution and thus tend to degrade environmental quality. The Safety Boar5d is aware of the contract issued by the Federal Railroad Administration for a study of train visual and audible warnings as related to highway grade crossings. We feel certain that some FHWA members of that group are cognizant of the need for a full approach which includes reliable reception; however, that need is not directly apparent in the ANPRM. It is recommended that the Safety Board’s recommendation in the Sacramento and Waterloo report be included in connection with the formulation of the next notice of proposed rulemaking under Docket Number 69-14. Specific and systematic consideration should be given to a definition by FHWA of the full spectrum of reception conditions which exist, including those mentioned above. FHWA should determine what is needed to operate under existing conditions effectively. Further, other methods of warning between vehicles should be considered, and especially those which do not add to noise pollution. Your consideration of this recommendation will be appreciated.