Highway Accident Report

Highway Accident Report
Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Rollover and
Motorcoach Collision With Overturned Truck
Interstate Highway 94
Near Osseo, Wisconsin
October 16, 2005

NTSB Number HAR-08/02
NTIS Number PB2008-916202
PDF Document (2.3 MB)

Executive Summary: Between 1:58 a.m. and 1:59 a.m. on Sunday, October 16, 2005, an accident comprising two events occurred on Interstate Highway 94 (I-94) near Osseo, Wisconsin. The first event was the single-vehicle rollover of a truck-tractor semitrailer combination unit. The second event occurred when a motorcoach collided with the wreckage from the first event.

About 7:30 p.m. on October 15, 2005, a 22-year-old truck driver departed Munster, Indiana, on an approximately 436-mile-long trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota, driving a truck-tractor semitrailer operated by Whole Foods Market, Inc. By 1:58 a.m., the truck driver had completed about 323 miles of his trip. The combination unit was traveling westbound on I-94 near milepost 85, at a policeestimated speed of 63 to 69 mph, when the unit departed the right-hand travel lane and paved shoulder at an approximate 3-degree angle. The unit left the roadway and entered the earthen, sloped roadside. The driver steered to the left, and the combination unit reentered the pavement and overturned onto its right side, sliding to a stop so that it blocked both westbound lanes and shoulders of I-94. The truck driver said that following the overturn, he turned off the ignition and was then thrown into the sleeper berth area by another impact.

About 3 hours before this accident, a group of marching band members from Chippewa High School left the University of Wisconsin near Whitewater on an approximately 225-mile-long trip back to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The group was traveling in four motorcoaches and had completed about 195 miles of the return trip. The accident vehicle, a 1993 Motor Coach Industries DL-3 55- passenger-capacity motorcoach owned by Chippewa Trails, Inc., was in the lead. It was traveling westbound in the right-hand lane of I-94 at an estimated speed of between 64 and 78 mph when it collided with the bottom of the overturned combination unit about 1:59 a.m.

The motorcoach driver and four passengers were fatally injured. Thirtyfive passengers received minor-to-serious injuries, and five passengers were not injured. The truck driver received minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the truck-tractor semitrailer rollover, the precipitating event in the accident sequence, and the motorcoach’s subsequent collision with the truck, was the truck driver’s falling asleep at the wheel, drifting from the roadway, and losing control of his vehicle. The truck driver was most likely fatigued because he did not take full advantage of adequate rest opportunities provided to him during his offduty time and, as a result, obtained inadequate and disrupted sleep prior to the accident. The motorcoach collided with the overturned truck because there were insufficient visual cues to permit the driver to identify the truck wreckage in time to avoid the collision.

During the investigation, the Safety Board identified the following major safety issues:

• Operator fatigue,
• Fatigue technologies and countermeasures, and
• Collision warning systems.

As a result of this accident investigation, the Safety Board makes two safety recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, one safety recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and one safety recommendation to Whole Foods Market, Inc. The Safety Board also reiterates two safety recommendations to NHTSA.