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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-73-014
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: ASSESS THE HUMAN FACTORS INVOLVED IN SEATBELT USAGE IN SCHOOLBUSES THROUGH A DEMONSTRATION PROJECT. THE PROJECT SHOULD INCLUDE A NUMBER OF BUSES EQUIPPED WITH SEATBELTS AND HIGHBACK, PADDED SEATS, WHICH ARE ENGAGED IN PUPIL TRANSPORTATION. (FINDINGS FROM THIS PROJECT WILL BE USEFUL FOR EVALUATION OF THE PROVISIONS FOUND IN THE PROPOSED MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD (DOCKET NO. 73-3), BUS PASSENGER SEATING AND CRASH PROTECTION).
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): Restraint Systems

Safety Recommendation History
From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 9/19/1974
Response: NHTSA MEMORANDUM STATED THAT ON JULY 30, 1974 (FR VOL 39, 2758 A NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING TITLED SCHOOL BUS PASSENGER CRASH PROTECTION WAS ISSUED. THIS NPRM CONTAINS PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHOOL BUS SEATS AND OTHER COMPONENTS TO REDUCE INJURIES TO SCHOOL BUS PASSENGERS. IN ANTICIPATION OF THE PROMULGATION OF THE FINAL RULE, THEY DO NOT PLAN TO INITIATE A DEMONSTRATION PROJECT FOR HIGH BACK PADDED SEATS. 10-26-76 A NEW FMVSS NO. 222 ESTABLISHED SPECIFIED SEATING, RESTRAINING BARRIER AND IMPACT ZONE REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHOOLBUSES. THE STRENGTH CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SEAT SPECIFIED BY THE STANDARD PROVIDES THE CORRECT COMPARTMENTALIZATION AND PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR SEATBELTS SHOULD THEY BE INSTALLED. A RESTRAINING BARRIER IS CALLED FOR FORWARD OF ANY DESIGNATED SEATING POSITIONS THAT DO NOT HAVE THE REAR SURFACE OF ANOTHER SCHOOLBUS PASSENGER SEAT WITHIN 20 INCHES OF ITS SEATING REFERENCE POINT.