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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-72-030
Details
Synopsis: AT ABOUT 7:55 A.M., ON FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 1972, AN EASTBOUND SCHOOLBUS WAS DRIVEN ACROSS A GRADE CROSSING ON GILCHRIST ROAD, NEAR CONGERS, N.Y., AND WAS STRUCK BY THE LEAD LOCOMOTIVE OF A NORTHBOUND PENN CENTRAL FREIGHT TRAIN. EXCEPT FOR A STOP SIGN, AT WHICH THE BUSDRIVER FAILED TO STOP, AND A STANDARD RAILROAD-CROSSING SIGN, THE CROSSING WAS NOT SPECIALLY PROTECTED. AFTER IMPACT THE SCHOOLBUS WAS DRIVEN 1,116 FEET DOWN THE TRACK BY THE TRAIN, AND THEBODY STRUCTURE OF THE BUS DISINTEGRATED. THE REAR SECTION OF THE BUSWAS TORN LOOSE, FELL BESIDE THE TRACK, AND OVERTURNED WITH A NUMBER OF STUDENTS UNDERNEATH. TWO OF THE SEVERAL STUDENTS WHO WERE EJECTEDFROM THE REMAINING PORTION OF THE BUS PASSED THROUGH SEPARATED FLOORSECTIONS AND FELL BETWEEN THE RAILS INTO THE PATH OF THE TRAIN. AS A RESULT OF THE ACCIDENT FIVE STUDENTS DIED, AND THE BUSDRIVER AND ALL 44 REMAINING STUDENTS WERE INJURED. NONE OF THE TRAIN CREW WAS INJURED. THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD DETERMINES THAT THE CAUSE OF THIS ACCIDENT WAS THE FAILURE OF THE SCHOOLBUS DRIVER TO STOP AT THE STOP SIGN UNTIL THE CROSSING WAS CLEAR OF RAILROAD TRAFFIC. CONTRIBUTING TO THE ACCIDENT WAS THE UNNECESSARY ROUTING OF THE SCHOOLBUS OVER A NOT SPECIALLY PROTECTED RAILROAD/HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSING.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: EXPEDITIOUSLY ADOPT A FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD TO CONTROL THE STRENGTH OF STRUCTURAL JOINTS OF SCHOOLBUSES. IN THIS CONNECTION CAREFUL CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE GIVEN TO REQUIREMENT 5.6 BODY STRUCTURE, OF THE VEHICLE EQUIPMENT SAFETY COMMISSION. THIS STANDARD SHOULD ALSO APPLY TO THE STRENGTHENING OF THE WINDOW COLUMNS OF SCHOOLBUSES.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Congers, NY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 79801
Accident Reports: ​Penn Central Freight Train / Schoolbus Collision
Report #: RHR-73-1
Accident Date: 3/24/1972
Issue Date: 8/30/1972
Date Closed: 1/1/1980
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: NHTSA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 9/28/1972
Response: JULY 9, 1973 THE NHTSA RELEASED THE NHTSA SCHOOL/BUS TASK FORC REPORT, TITLED "PUPIL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY PROGRAM PLAN." RECOMMENDATION NO. 2 OF THIS REPORT STATES: NHTSA SHOULD FOLLOW THE RECOMMENDATION OF NTSB TO "...ADOPT A FMVSS TO CONTROL THE STRENGTH OF STRUCTURAL JOINTS OF SCHOOL BUSES." THE PROPOSED STANDARD COULD FOLLOW THE VESC REQUIREMENT NO. 5.6 BODY STRUCTURE. JANUARY 22, 1974THE NHTSA PUBLISHED IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER, VOLUME 39, NO. 15, TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 1974, PAGES 2490-1, A NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING (DOCKET NO. 73-34, NOTICE 1) TITLED SCHOOL BUS BODY JOINTSTRENGTH. THIS NPRM PROPOSES THAT EACH JOINT WILL HAVE AT LEAST 60% OF THE STRENGTH OF THE WEAKEST JOINED PART. THE NPRM ALSO SETS FORTHA TEST PROCEDURE TO MAKE POSSIBLE AN OBJECTIVE DETERMINATION OF A JOINT'S STRENGTH.