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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-13-033
Synopsis: On Thursday, February 16, 2012, about 8:15 a.m. eastern standard time, near Chesterfield, New Jersey, a Garden State Transport Corporation 2012 IC Bus, LLC, school bus was transporting 25 kindergarten–sixth-grade students to Chesterfield Elementary School. The bus was traveling north on Burlington County Road (BCR) 660 through the intersection with BCR 528, while a Herman’s Trucking Inc. 2004 Mack roll-off1 truck with a fully loaded dump container was traveling east on BCR 528, approaching the intersection. The school bus driver had stopped at the flashing red traffic beacon and STOP sign. As the bus pulled away from just forward of the white stop line on BCR 660 and entered the intersection, it failed to yield to the truck and was struck behind the left rear axle. The bus rotated nearly 180 degrees and subsequently struck a traffic beacon support pole. One bus passenger was killed. Five bus passengers sustained serious injuries, 10 bus passengers and the bus driver received minor injuries, and nine bus passengers and the truck driver were uninjured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines that the probable cause of the Chesterfield, New Jersey, crash was the school bus driver’s failure to observe the Mack roll-off truck, which was approaching the intersection within a hazardous proximity. Contributing to the school bus driver’s reduced vigilance were cognitive decrements due to fatigue as a result of acute sleep loss, chronic sleep debt, and poor sleep quality, in combination with, and exacerbated by, sedative side effects from his use of prescription medications. Contributing to the severity of the crash was the truck driver’s operation of his vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit, in addition to his failure to ensure that the weight of the vehicle was within allowable operating restrictions. Further contributing to the severity of the crash were the defective brakes on the truck and its overweight condition due to poor vehicle oversight by Herman’s Trucking, along with improper installation of the lift axle brake system by the final stage manufacturer—all of which degraded the truck’s braking performance. Contributing to the severity of passenger injuries were the nonuse or misuse of school bus passenger lap belts; the lack of passenger protection from interior sidewalls, sidewall components, and seat frames; and the high lateral and rotational forces in the back portion of the bus.
Recommendation: TO THE STATES OF CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA, LOUISIANA, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, AND TEXAS: Upon publication of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures document, revise the handout and training procedures developed in Safety Recommendation H-13-32 to align with the national procedures as appropriate.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Await Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Chesterfield, NJ, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY12MH007
Accident Reports: School Bus and Truck Collision at Intersection
Report #: HAR-13-01
Accident Date: 2/16/2012
Issue Date: 9/9/2013
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: State of California (Open - Await Response)
State of Florida (Open - Initial Response Received)
State of Louisiana (Open - Await Response)
State of New Jersey (Open - Await Response)
State of New York (Open - Acceptable Response)
State of Texas (Open - Await Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: State of California
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: Has California taken action to implement this recommendation?

From: State of Florida
Date: 1/22/2015
Response: -From Lora Bailey Hollingsworth, P.E., Chief Safety Officer, Highway Safety Coordinator: Yes, the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures document was published during May 2010, the FDOE brochure, “Are We There Yet?: Staying Safe Between Home and School” was updated during July 2010. Again, this brochure offers tips to parents, guardians, and students on how to stay safe, especially when the students are not with school officials who can help protect them. Close H-13-33.

From: NTSB
To: State of Florida
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: Has Florida taken action to implement this recommendation?

From: NTSB
To: State of Louisiana
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: Has Louisiana taken action to implement this recommendation?

From: NTSB
To: State of New Jersey
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: Has New Jersey taken action to implement this recommendation?

From: State of New York
Date: 9/9/2015
Response: -From Charles R. DeWeese, Assistant Commissioner, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee: While the final document from 2015 National Transportation Standards and Procedures has not been made available on their website, conversation was held with the chairperson representing New York State Education Department who attended the Congress. It was reported: “No discussion on proposed changes to seatbelts on buses took place while the Congress was in session.” New York will wait for the document to become officially available. Once the document becomes available, New York will review its relevance to our state and will use the specifications as a guideline to consider in changing or adopting new state laws and regulations.

From: NTSB
To: State of New York
Date: 6/12/2015
Response: We note that (1) you are waiting for the National Congress on School Transportation to adopt guidelines at its May 2015 conference, (2) you plan to review the guidelines once they become available, and (3) you plan to incorporate relevant sections into your state’s school bus passenger belt use and safety drill documents. Pending completion of these actions, Safety Recommendation H-13-33 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: State of New York
Date: 11/4/2014
Response: -From Chuck DeWeese, Assistant Commissioner, Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee: On behalf of New York State DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala, I have attached the updates on Open NTSB Highway Safety Recommendations. New York continues to make progress on some of the outstanding issues but, as you are aware, many of the areas of concern require legislative action which often takes years to achieve passage. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles remains committed to the safety of transportation on our highways and will continue to seek improvements, including those recommended by the NTSB. Please advise if you have any questions. SED is responsible for any updates that they would adopt from the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures document. SED has also appointed a chairperson to select a delegation and attend the Congress in May 2015. The delegation will report back to SED with all the suggested specifications pursuant to the use of passenger belts and school bus safety drills. It is also important to note that any school bus built after 1987 was mandated to have two-point lap belts. Yet it is up to the individual school board of education to vote on the mandatory use of seat belts in school buses.

From: NTSB
To: State of New York
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: Has New York taken any action to address this recommendation?

From: NTSB
To: State of Texas
Date: 9/4/2014
Response: Has Texas taken any action to address this recommendation?