The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has completed its review of the tragic bus accident last August near Houston, Texas where 17 passengers lost their lives and 38 others received injuries that ranged from minor to serious.
Examination of the bus indicated that it had been traveling for extended period of time with an under-inflated tire. This caused a separation of the sidewall, belting, and body ply of the tire. The severity of the tire failure made it impossible for the driver to control the vehicle and it hit the bridge railing.
Adding to the gravity of the accident was the failure of the bridge railing which allowed the bus to drop about 8 feet to the ground below, a lack of seat beat restraints for the passengers and failure of the luggage racks that prevented or slowed evacuation from the bus.
As a result of the examination of the causes of this bus accident, the NTSB has made the following recommendations:
The Federal Highway Administration should work with state officials to design new high-performance bridge railings and rehab older bridges so that they comply.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was advised to:
- Require all new motor vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds to be equipped with direct tire pressure monitoring systems to inform drivers of the actual tire pressures on their vehicles.
- Develop performance standards for newly manufactured motorcoaches to require that overhead luggage racks remain anchored during an accident sequence.
- Develop performance standards for newly manufactured motorcoaches that prevent head and neck injuries from overhead luggage racks.
Other recommendations included a requirement that tire pressure be tested before any trip is made, during all vehicle inspections and at roadside inspections. Federal officials reiterated their request that all motorcoaches should be equipped with passenger restraints, including one for children, that would protect them in the event of a bus crash.
With the hundreds of thousands of miles American travel by bus, we can only hope that these all federal officials will heed these recommendations to prevent future tragedies.