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Board Meeting: Highway Accident Report - Bus Loss of Control and Rollover, Dolan Springs, Arizona, January 30, 2009 (HWY-09-MH-009) - Chairman's Opening and Closing Remarks, Washington, DC
Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Board Meeting: Highway Accident Report - Bus Loss of Control and Rollover, Dolan Springs, Arizona, January 30, 2009, Washington, DC

I want to thank my fellow Board members and all who joined us for this important Board meeting.

Finally, a note of appreciation to the hard-working and committed staff of the NTSB, and in particular those staff with the Office of Highway Safety. While the Board members sit here on the dais today, it is the staff that has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to produce this excellent report.

On behalf of Vice Chairman Hart and Member Sumwalt, I extend my thanks to you, staff, for your hard work, your dedication, and your commitment to transportation safety.

What this accident teaches us, more than any other lesson, is that "there's as much risk in doing nothing, as in doing something."

What we uncovered in this accident investigation confirms what the Safety Board has known, and publicly stated, for over a decade - that more can and must be done to protect medium-size bus occupants. The tragedy of this accident is not that we haven't known what to do; it's that we haven't done it.

Shamefully, had the regulators heeded the lessons learned from our previous investigations and implemented our safety recommendations, the tragedy of Dolan Springs may have been prevented.

For example, had the accident bus been equipped with a lane departure warning system, the driver would have been alerted upon the initial drift from the driving lane.

Had the accident bus been equipped with a stability control system - a technology that is already widely used in automobiles - the accident driver may have been less likely to lose control.

Had federal standards addressing occupant protection, roof strength and window-glazing for this bus type been implemented, we likely could have reduced the severity of the accident and potentially saved lives and minimized injuries.

Along with the efforts being made to address the issue of distracted driving, lane departure warning technology and stability control systems can help prevent accidents like the one in Dolan Springs from ever occurring.

I am hopeful that in light of the findings, probable cause determination, and recommendations adopted by the Board today, including 7 new recommendations, the federal regulators will respond and put in place these critical safety measures so that, regardless of bus type, size or name, anyone travelling on a school bus, a taxi, a motorcoach or a medium-sized bus is fully protected.