Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-73-010
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 NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: IN ITS REVISION OF THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM STANDARDS, CONTINUE THE REQUIREMENT WHICH STATES THAT SCHOOLBUS DRIVERS ARE TO "BE QUALIFIED AS A DRIVER UNDER THE MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS OF THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION 49CFR 391, IF HE OR HIS EMPLOYER IS SUBJECT TO THE REGULATIONS" AND TO EXTEND THAT PROVISION (EXCEPT REGARDING DRIVER'S AGE) TO INCLUDE ALL DRIVERS OF SCHOOLBUSES REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY OR THEIR EMPLOYER IS SUBJECT TO THOSE REGULATIONS.
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: NHTSA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 6/29/1973
Response: NHTSA LETTER ACKNOWLEDGES RECEIPT OF COPIES OF THE REPORT. IT THAT THE TECHNICAL STAFFS OF THE TRAFFIC SAFETY PROGRAMS AND MOTOR VEHICLE PROGRAMS ARE STUDYING THE REPORT AND THEIR REPLY WILL BE FORWARDED THROUGH THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR SAFETY AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS. MAY 28, 1974: NHTSA GENERALLY AGREES WITH THIS RECOMMENDATION. REQUIRING DRIVERS TO COMPLY WITH MCS REGULATIONS WOULD ADD ABOUT 300,000 MORE DRIVERS TO THE CURRENT 3 MILLION DRIVERS SUBJECT TO BMCS INSPECTION; AND CREATE PROBLEMS WITH FINDINGSUFFICIENT NUMBERS OF DRIVERS OVER AGE 21 IN SOME AREAS. SUPERVISIONOF THIS MANY MORE DRIVERS WOULD REQUIRE AN INCREASE IN BMCS STAFF. 1-17-75: THE NHTSA STATES THAT HIGHWAY SAFETY STANDARD #17, "PUPIL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY" REQUIRES STATES TO HAVE A PLAN FOR SELECTING,TRAINING AND SUPERVISING PERSONS INVOLVED IN TRANSPORTING SCHOOL PUPILS. DRIVERS MUST HAVE A VALID STATE DRIVERS LICENSE, MEET STATE PHYSICAL, MEDICAL AND MORAL REQUIREMENTS, AND QUALIFY UNDER BMCS REGULATIONS IF EMPLOYER IS SUBJECT THERETO.