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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-73-009
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 THE BODY STRUCTURE OF THE BUS DISINTEGRATED. THE REAR SECTION OF THE BUS WAS TORN LOOSE, FELL BESIDE THE TRACK, AND OVERTURNED WITH A NUMBER OF STUDENTS UNDERNEATH. TWO OF THE SEVERAL STUDENTS WHO WERE EJECTED FROM THE REMAINING PORTION OF THE BUS PASSED THROUGH SEPARATED FLOOR SECTIONS 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.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: SEEK LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD EXTEND THE USE OF FEDERAL FUNDS NOW AVAILABLE FOR GRADE-CROSSING SAFETY AND IMPROVEMENT ON THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY SYSTEM TO INCLUDE THOSE RAILROAD/HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSINGS ON NON-FEDERAL AID HIGHWAYS.
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-73-01
Accident Date: 3/24/1972
Issue Date: 3/30/1973
Date Closed: 1/1/1980
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: DOT (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: DOT
To: NTSB
Date: 8/15/1972
Response: LETTER FROM SECRETARY DOT ACKNOWLEDGING RECEIPT OF REPORT AND INFORMING THE BOARD THAT IT WAS BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENT, SAFETY AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND OTHER APPROPRIATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS. AUGUST 15, 1972 THE DOT FRA-FHWA REPORT TO CONGRESS - HIGHWAY SAFETY PART II, RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOLVING THE PROBLEM, STATES A MAJOR PART OF THE PROBLEM OF REDUCING HAZARDS AT RAIL-HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSINGS IS THE LONGSTANDING LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENT THAT FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY FUNDS CANNOT BE USED FOR IMPROVING CROSSINGS THAT ARE NOT LOCATED ON DESIGNATED FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY SYSTEMS. THE REPORT SETS FORTH FIVE ALTERNATIVES THE THIRD OF WHICH IS: "AMEND THE FEDERAL LEGISLATION UNDER 23 U.S.C. 120(D) AND 130 AS NECESSARY TO (1) MAKE FEDERAL-AID FUNDS FOR FINANCING BOTH ELIMINATION TYPE AND PROTECTION TYPE CROSSING IMPROVEMENTS THAT ARE LOCATED OFF AS WELL AS ON THE FEDERAL-AID, AND (2) FOR SUCH IMPROVEMENTS REQUIRE THE STATES TO SPEND A MINIMUM OF 5 PERCENT OF ALL SUMS APPORTIONED TO IT FOR A-B-C-D HIGHWAY SYSTEM IMPROVEMENT UNDER SECTION 23, U.S.C. 104." SEPTEMBER 1, 1973 THE FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY ACT OF 1973 IN SECTION 230, SETS UP DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS. IT PROVIDES FOR TWO NEW ROADWAYSAFETY DEMONSTRATION PROGRAMS PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF FEDERAL HIGHWAY FUNDS OFF OF THE FEDERAL-AID ROAD SYSTEM. THE "SAFER ROAD DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM" AUTHORIZES A TEST PROGRAM FOR THE CORRECTION OF THREE TYPES OF SAFETY HAZARDS OFF OF THE FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY NETWORK. THE THREE ARE: (1) ELIMINATION OF ROADSIDE OBSTACLES, (2) IMPROVE HIGHWAY MARKING AND SIGNING, AND (3) REDUCE HAZARDS AT RAIL-HIGHWAY CROSSINGS ON ALL NON-FEDERAL-AID PUBLIC ROADS. 8-23-74 FHWA LETTER REPORTS THAT AS A MATTER OF INFORMATION, THE FHWA RECOMMENDED IN AUGUST 1972 IN A REPORT TO CONGRESS THAT FEDERAL FUNDS BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS TO RAILROAD GRADE CROSSINGS NOT LOCATED ON THE FEDERAL AID HIGHWAY SYSTEM. THE FEDERALAID HIGHWAY ACT OF 1973 CONTAINS A PROVISION FOR THIS UNDER SECTION 230 AND THE FHWA HAS ISSUED INSTRUCTIONS TO IMPLEMENT THIS SECTION OF THE ACT.