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School Bus and Dump Truck Collision, Central Bridge, New York, on October 21, 1999.
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Event Summary

Board Meeting : School Bus and Dump Truck Collision, Central Bridge, New York, on October 21, 1999.
 
11/14/2000 12:00 AM

Executive Summary

About 10:30 a.m. on October 21, 1999, in Schoharie County, New York, a Kinnicutt Bus Company school bus was transporting 44 students, 5 to 9 years old, and 8 adults on an Albany City School No. 18 field trip. The bus was traveling north on State Route 30A as it approached the intersection with State Route 7, which is about 1.5 miles east of Central Bridge, New York. Concurrently, an MVF Construction Company dump truck, towing a utility trailer, was traveling west on State Route 7. The dump truck was occupied by the driver and a passenger. As the bus approached the intersection, it failed to stop as required and was struck by the dump truck. Seven bus passengers sustained serious injuries; 28 bus passengers and the truckdriver received minor injuries. Thirteen bus passengers, the busdriver, and the truck passenger were uninjured.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the school bus driver's failure to stop for the stop sign due to his degraded performance or lapse of attention as a result of factors associated with aging or his medical condition or both.

The following major safety issues were identified in this accident:

  • the potential for passenger injuries as a result of the school bus emergency exit door design,
  • the potential for passenger injuries as a result of school bus seat cushion bottoms that are removable or hinged,
  • and the adequacy of commercial vehicle airbrake inspections.

The medical fitness of commercial drivers and the medical examination for the commercial driver's license were also identified as safety issues; however, these issues will be analyzed in a forthcoming Safety Board special investigation report.

As a result of this accident investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, the Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. In addition, safety recommendations are being reiterated to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Recommendations

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendations:

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Modify the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to prohibit protruding door handles or latching mechanisms on emergency exit doors. (H-00-28)

Modify the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to include the requirement that school bus seat cushion bottoms be installed with fail-safe latching devices to ensure they remain in their installed position during impacts and rollovers. (H-00-29)

To the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Advise relevant staff of the importance of requiring a brake application during inspections of tractor protection systems and the consequences of not doing so, as evidenced by the circumstances of the October 21, 1999, accident in Central Bridge, New York. (H-00-30)

To the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services:

Inform your members of the potential for injury to passengers from protruding door handles or latching mechanisms on emergency exit doors. Consider not placing passengers in those seat positions adjacent to emergency exit doors so equipped. (H-00-31)

Inform your members again of the safety hazards of not ensuring that the seat cushion bottom latching clips are properly latched at all times. (H-00-32)

To the Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance:

Advise your members of the importance of requiring a brake application during inspections of tractor protection systems and the consequences of not doing so, as evidenced by the circumstances of the October 21, 1999, accident in Central Bridge, New York. (H-00-33)

The National Transportation Safety Board also reiterates the following recommendations:

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

In 2 years, develop performance standards for school bus occupant protection systems that account for frontal impact collisions, side impact collisions, rear impact collisions, and rollovers. (H-99-45)

Once pertinent standards have been developed for school bus occupant protection systems, require newly manufactured school buses to have an occupant crash protection system that meets the newly developed performance standards and retains passengers, including those in child safety restraint systems, within the seating compartment throughout the accident sequence for all accident scenarios. (H-99-46)


 


 

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