WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Wednesday for its ongoing investigation of the Nov. 1, 2016, Baltimore crash of a school bus and a transit bus.
The school bus operated by AAAfordable LLC, on a contracted route for Baltimore City Schools, was traveling eastbound on Frederick Avenue, Baltimore, when it struck a Ford Mustang. The school bus continued traveling east, and entered the westbound travel lane where it collided with a Maryland Transit Administration bus. The impact continued along the left side of the transit bus and terminated near its rear axle.
The final position of the transit bus and school bus. The school bus first impacted a passenger vehicle before crossing the center lane and colliding with the transit bus. (Photo courtesy of: Maryland Transportation Authority Police)
The school bus was occupied only by a driver and an adult teacher aide. The transit bus was occupied by a driver and 13 passengers. The drivers of both buses and four transit bus passengers were killed, and seven other passengers were seriously injured. The teacher aide and two transit bus passengers sustained minor injuries as did the driver of the Ford Mustang.
The preliminary report states video from area surveillance cameras and the transit bus onboard video system indicate the school bus was traveling approximately 57 mph just before striking the Ford Mustang. The onboard video system captured the crash sequence. The airbag control module on the Ford Mustang recorded that it was traveling approximately 16 mph when it was struck from behind.
After colliding with the Ford Mustang, the school bus continued more than 800 feet and was traveling about 45 mph before impacting the MTA bus, which was traveling about 39 mph. The posted speed limit in the area was 30 mph.
Preliminary information suggests neither bus driver was using a cell phone at the time of the crash. Both bus drivers reported to duty earlier that day and were not operating beyond hours-of-service regulations. Mechanical inspections were completed on both buses with no mechanical defects identified.
Investigators found the school bus driver had a history of hypertension, diabetes, and seizures, and in the past five years, had been involved in at least 12 crashes or incidents while operating a school bus or personal vehicle. Reports from a number of these cases described seizure-like episodes. At the time of the crash, the school bus driver held a current medical certificate, but it was not on file with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. Because the medical certificate was not on file, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration notified the school bus driver about two months before the crash that he was no longer authorized to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Parties to the investigation include the Baltimore Police Department, Maryland Transit Administration, Maryland Transit Administration Police, Federal Transit Administration, Maryland Transportation Authority, and New Flyer.
All aspects of the crash remain under investigation by the NTSB and the Baltimore Police as the NTSB works to determine the probable cause of the crash, with the intent of issuing recommendations to prevent similar crashes.
The NTSB has a long history of investigating school bus crashes and has made several recommendations concerning school bus safety. To learn more about school bus safety, watch our school bus safety video, and visit our school bus safety webpage at www.ntsb.gov/safety/Pages/schoolbuses.aspx.
Analysis of the accident facts, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause, will come at a later date when the final report on the investigation is completed.
The preliminary report can be found here: http://go.usa.gov/x8mHm
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