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About 3:37 p.m. Pacific daylight time on Thursday, April 24, 2014, a 2012 Blue Bird 78-passenger All American school bus, operated by the Orange Unified School District in Anaheim, California, and occupied by a 24-year-old male driver and 11 students, aged 12–14 years old, was returning children home from the El Rancho Charter Middle School. The bus was traveling northbound in the 6500 block of Nohl Ranch Canyon Road in Anaheim. The posted speed limit was 35 mph, but the bus was traveling at a video-estimated speed of 43 mph when it left the roadway. The weather was clear, and the roadway was dry. According to witnesses, while the school bus was traveling downhill on Nohl Ranch Canyon Road, its speed increased and it traveled out of its lane to the right. The bus left the roadway and overrode the right curb, where it struck and dislodged a concrete light post. The bus continued up an embankment, where its front struck and uprooted a tree. The left side of the bus also scraped along a large tree from approximately the front axle to the rear axle. The bus came to rest at an approximate 30-degree angle on the embankment, leaning onto this same tree, which was in contact with the left side of the bus just aft of the left-side emergency exit door and just forward of the rear wheels.
TO THE NATIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION, THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR PUPIL TRANSPORTATION, AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE DIRECTORS OF PUPIL TRANSPORTATION SERVICES: Inform school bus drivers of the impact their health may have on the safe transportation of school children, of their responsibility to accurately and completely report their health history and medications, and of the legal consequences of dishonesty on the medical examination report.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Initial Response Received
Anaheim, CA, United States
Highway Accident Brief: School Bus Roadway Departure
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
National Association for Pupil Transportation (Open - Await Response)
National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (Closed - Acceptable Action)
National School Transportation Association (Open - Initial Response Received)
Safety Recommendation History
National School Transportation Association
We understand that the NSTA has undergone a recent leadership change. In lieu of an official written response, we would like to meet with representatives of your agency to discuss our recommendation process and your approach to school bus transportation safety issues, as represented by these recommendations, in person or in a conference call. We will delay our formal review of the July 12 response and classification of the recommendations until after we have an opportunity to meet. An NTSB staff member will be contacting your organization to set up this meeting.
National School Transportation Association
-From Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director: By way of this letter, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is responding to Safety Recommendations H-16-7 and H-13-36, which was forwarded to us on November 7, 2016. NSTA is the membership organization for school bus companies engaged primarily in transporting students to and from school and school-related activities under contract to public school districts. Our members offer a range of services to our school district partners, from full turn-key service to management operations and specialized transportation. NSTA members range from small family businesses serving one district to large corporations operating thousands of buses across many states, all committed to the safe, efficient, and economical transportation of America’s children. As noted previously, NSTA received Safety Recommendations H-16-7 and H-13-36 from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which states: H-16-7: Inform School bus drivers of the impact their health may have on the safe transportation of school children, of their responsibility to accurately and completely report their health history and medications, and of the legal consequences of dishonestly on the medical examination report. H-13-36: Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt equipped school buses. NSTA provided notice of the safety recommendations in our November 16, 2016 electronic newsletters to our members. In addition, NSTA Executive Director Ronna Weber also informed members publicly of both recommendations during prepared remarks at NSTA’s Midwinter Meeting in Palm Springs, California on Monday, January 16, 2017, during prepared remarks at the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association meeting in St. Cloud, Minnesota on January 27, 2017, during prepared remarks at the School Transportation Association of Massachusetts meeting in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on February 21, 2017 and in prepared remarks at the Idaho Association for Pupil Transportation meeting in Boise, Idaho on June 27, 2017. We hope the Board will view these actions as responsive to its recommendation. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your recommendation and look forward to continuing to work with the National Transportation Safety Board. We take safety very seriously and are very proud of the work we do each and every day to transport children to school safely as well as the charter work we operate.
National Association for Pupil Transportation
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation—railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline. We determine the probable cause of the accidents and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, we carry out special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinate the resources of the federal government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members affected by major transportation disasters. We are providing the following information to urge your organization to take action on the safety recommendations in this letter. On October 11, 2016, we adopted our report concerning the April 24, 2014, crash in Anaheim, California, involving a school bus that was occupied by a driver and 11 students.1 Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the report of the investigation, which can be accessed at our website, http://www.ntsb.gov, under report number NTSB/HAB-16/06. As a result of this investigation, we reiterated Safety Recommendations H-01-20 to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; H-13-32 to the state of California; H-15-2 to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS); and H-13-36 to the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), NASDPTS, and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). We issued new Safety Recommendation H-16-7 to NAPT, NASDPTS, and NSTA. Consequently, NAPT is receiving the following new safety recommendation: H-16-7 Inform school bus drivers of the impact their health may have on the safe transportation of school children, of their responsibility to accurately and completely report their health history and medications, and of the legal consequences of dishonesty on the medical examination report. NAPT is receiving the following reiterated safety recommendation: H-13-36 Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses. Chairman HART, Vice Chairman DINH-ZARR, and Member SUMWALT concurred in these recommendations. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate receiving a response from you within 90 days detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement them. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number. We encourage you to submit your response electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it exceeds 10 megabytes, including attachments, please e-mail us at the same address for instructions. Please do not submit both an electronic copy and a hard copy of the same response.
National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
We are pleased that you informed your members of the recommended medical reporting actions, urged them to follow federal requirements, and encouraged school districts to provide their drivers with medical reporting training. Your efforts satisfy Safety Recommendation H-16-7, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
-From Charlie Hood, Executive Director: On October 11, 2016, the NTSB adopted its report (Highway Accident Brief, “School Bus Roadway Departure”), concerning the April 24, 2014 crash in Anaheim, California, involving a school bus that was occupied by a driver and 11 students. The bus was traveling downhill and traveled out of its lane to the right. It left the roadway and overrode the right curb, where it struck a light post, continued up an embankment, struck a tree on the front, and scraped along another large tree along the left side of the bus from approximately the front axle to the rear axle. The bus came to rest against the large tree, with significant intrusion into the left side and roof of the bus. The driver and four students were seriously injured. Five students sustained minor injuries, and two students were uninjured. The brief stated, in part, “Based on the video evidence, the NTSB concludes that the school bus departed the roadway as a result of the driver’s loss of consciousness.” In post-crash interviews, the school bus driver reported a history of pulmonary hypertension going back five years and further reported that he had experienced a seizure a year prior to the crash and had “blacked out” three times over the last five years. He had not informed the doctor who performed the commercial driver medical examination of these conditions or of the medication he was taking for them. The above summary, paraphrased from the NTSB brief, does not provide the full detail contained within the brief, but is included to provide context to the agency’s safety recommendation and our response, discussed below. NASDPTS agrees with and supports this recommendation. Student transportation professionals and the parents and students they serve well understand the importance of maintaining the unparalleled, high level of safety provided by school bus transportation. NASDPTS, its members, and all of the over one-half million professionals charged with driving, maintaining, and overseeing the nation’s school buses welcome and encourage any opportunity to further improve that record. As such, NASDPTS is copying this response concurrently to our state director members, informing them of the circumstances of the Anaheim crash and the NTSB’s recommendation. We are also ensuring the NTSB receives a concurrent copy of our memorandum of transmittal to state directors. The commercial driver medical examination requirements prescribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), including the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, provide a stringent standard for the fitness for duty of the drivers of school buses and other commercial vehicles. Nevertheless, as the NTSB found in the Anaheim brief, it is incumbent upon school bus drivers to self-report accurately any medical conditions that may affect their fitness to drive, as prescribed in the Driver Health History section of the FMCSA Medical Examination Report Form. We, therefore, encourage state directors to take the following actions: 1. Recommend adoption for all school bus drivers within your state of the commercial driver medical examination requirements prescribed by FMCSA, if such requirements are not already in place. 2. Inform local school districts regarding the circumstances of the Anaheim crash; ensure that all school bus drivers are trained regarding the overall importance of self-reporting accurately any medical conditions that may affect their fitness to drive and medications taken, including at least those conditions listed within the Driver Health History section of the FMCSA Medical Examination Report Form. 3. Research potential legal consequences within your state of failure by school bus drivers to report honestly any medical conditions and medications taken, as required by the state’s adopted commercial driver medical examination report; inform school districts of such consequences and have them train all school bus drivers accordingly.
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