Highway Accident Report

Adopted: October 25, 1973
MAY 13, 1972

NTSB Number: HAR-73.05
NTIS Number: PB-225032/AS


At 5:35 a.m. on May 13, 1972, an eastbound Greyhound intercity bus drove over the broken centerline of U. S. Route 11W, a two-lane highway, and started to pass an eastbound automobile. As the front of the bus pulled even with the center of the automobile door, a westbound truck came into view around a curve.

The busdriver made no attempt to get back into his own lane, and the bus collided with the truck nearly head-on in the westbound lane. The top speed of the bus before impact was estimated at about 55 m.p.h., and the top speed of the truck at about 45 m.p.h. After impact, the bus traveled an additional 86 feet and came to rest, right side up, in the eastbound lane. The tractor and truck were destroyed by a fire which did not reach the bus.

The truckdriver, the busdriver, and twelve bus passengers died in the crash. Fourteen of the remaining fifteen passengers in the bus were injured. Nine passengers were found outside the bus after it came to rest.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the cause of this accident was (1) the driving of the bus in the opposing lane of traffic while the bus was passing an automobile without unobstructed clear-sight distance ahead, and (2) the busdriver's .failure to avoid the tractor-semitrailer, for unknown reasons.

Contributing to the fatalities and injuries was the lack of occupant restraints, which allowed some passengers to be ejected and others to be projected into sharp or unyielding interior bus components.


The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that:

1. The State of Tennessee, Department of Highways, study the need for double yellow center lines on U. S. Highway 11W in the area of this accident to insure a no-passing condition. Further, study and correct similar conditions in the state where sight distances can be obstructed by commercial vehicles. (Recommendation H-73-41)

2. The Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety of the Federal Highway Administration take positive action toward making available to bus passengers convenient restraints against being ejected from their seats in a crash or rollover. This recommendation, with similar intent but varying language, has been made in seven prior interstate bus crash reports issued by the Safety Board. (Recommendation H-73-42)

3. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revise part S7.1 of its Proposed Rulemaking--Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection; Docket 73-3; Notice 1, to require impact protection for interior panels located in and around bus passenger windows. (Recommendation H-73-43)