Highway Accident Report

Adopted: March 12, 1975
OCTOBER 19, 1973

NTSB Number: HAR-75/03
NTIS Number: PB-241989/AS


At 8 p.m. on October 19, 1973, a tractor-semitrailer was traveling south in the right lane of the southbound portion of the New Jersey Turnpike at about 55 mph. A Greyhound bus was traveling north in the right lane of the northbound portion of the Turnpike. A private auto was traveling in the center lane of the northbound portion and was passing the bus.

The left front tire of the truck blew out; the tractor veered to the left and crashed through the median guardrail into the northbound lanes. The truck struck the automobile and crushed it between the truck and the bus; the automobile split in half, and the rear half caught fire. The truck ran off the northbound lanes, through a guardrail, down a 50-foot embankment, and turned onto its right side. The truckdriver was ejected; he was not wearing an available seatbelt.

The automobile driver, the automobile passenger, the busdriver, and six bus passengers died in the crash. The truckdriver and 10 bus passengers were injured. Property damage amounted to $100,000.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the sudden deflation of the left front tire on the tractor which caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The sudden deflation resulted from a gross failure of the tire sidewall due to under inflation caused by an undetected nail puncture.
Contributing to the fatalities and injuries was the inadequacy of the median guardrail to prevent the tractor-semitrailer from entering into the opposing lanes of traffic.


The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that the Federal Highway Administration:

1. Upon completion of the research dealing with the development of a commercial driver training course, distribute such training course information to all professional commercial driver training schools. (Recommendation H-75-9)

2. Amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Section 391.11) to require that all candidate drivers be familiar through formal training with such driving emergencies as front tire, failures, brake fade, jackknife situations. (Recommendation H-75-10)

3. Expedite that portion of the FHWA research project, "Advanced Vehicle Protection Systems." that will provide data for design of new barrier construction and improvements to existing systems. Dynamic vehicle impact tests should be made using both intercity buses and heavy trucks. (Recommendation H-75-11)