About 4:05 a.m. on June 20, 1998, a 1997 Motor Coach Industries 47-passenger motorcoach, operated by Greyhound Lines, Inc., was on a scheduled trip from New York City to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, traveling westbound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Burnt Cabins, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. As the bus approached milepost (MP) 184.9, it traveled off the right side of the roadway into an "emergency parking area,"where it struck the back of a parked tractor-semitrailer, which was pushed forward and struck the left side of another parked tractor-semitrailer. Of the 23 people on board the bus, the driver and 6 passengers were killed; the other 16 passengers were injured. The two occupants of the first tractor-semitrailer were injured, and the occupant of the second tractor-semitrailer was uninjured.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the busdriver's reduced alertness resulting from ingesting a sedating antihistamine and from his fatigued condition resulting from Greyhound Lines, Inc., scheduling irregular work-rest periods. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's practice of routinely permitting nonemergency parking in pull-off areas within the highway clear zone.
The major safety issues identified in this accident are the busdriver's performance, the adequacy of carrier oversight, the adequacy of the design and the appropriateness of the use of pull-off areas, the lack of motorcoach emergency interior lighting and retroreflective signage, and the organization of the disaster preparedness and emergency response management.
As a result of this accident investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission; Greyhound Lines, Inc.; the United Motorcoach Association; and the American Bus Association.
As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendations:
To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Revise the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to require that all motorcoaches be equipped with emergency lighting fixtures that are outfitted with a self-contained independent power source. (H-00-01)
Revise the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to require the use of interior luminescent or exterior retroreflective material or both to mark all emergency exits in all motorcoaches. (H-00-02)
To the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission:
Prohibit nonemergency parking in pull-off areas within the highway clear zone. (H-00-03)
Provide adequate rest areas for nonemergency parking to accommodate vehicles that may be displaced by the prohibition of parking in emergency pull-off areas within the highway clear zone. (H-00-04)
Periodically conduct disaster drills in mass casualty transportation accidents, such as the bus accident near Burnt Cabins, with contracted emergency response departments on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to assess its emergency management plan, to reinforce and evaluate emergency training, and to test communication among the responding agencies. (H-00-05)
To Greyhound Lines, Inc.:
Revise your driver scheduling practices to reduce scheduling variability that results in irregular work-rest cycles. (H-00-06)
Include in your drivers' assessment programs all driver traffic and logbook violations. (H-00-07)
Use all current and future data monitoring and storage capabilities of electronic control modules, electronic control units, and similar technologies to enhance vehicle and driver oversight programs by engaging the specific capabilities of each individual unit's programmed or programmable functions to collect and monitor data including, but not limited to, vehicle speed, revolutions-per-minute, hard-brake or sudden decelerations, and other parameters of vehicle and engine operations. (H-00-08)
Revise your 1-800-SAFEBUS program to ensure that all complaints are included in drivers' files and used in drivers' assessments. (H-00-09)
To the United Motorcoach Association:
Advise your members of the facts and circumstances of this accident and encourage them, if they do not already do so, to 1) revise their driver scheduling practices to reduce scheduling variability that results in irregular work-rest cycles and to 2) include all traffic violations in their drivers' records and consider these violations during driver safety assessments. (H-00-10)
To the American Bus Association:
Advise your members of the facts and circumstances of this accident and encourage them, if they do not already do so, to 1) revise their driver scheduling practices to reduce scheduling variability that results in irregular work-rest cycles and to 2) include all traffic violations in their drivers' records and consider these violations during driver safety assessments. (H-00-11)