Highway Accident Report

Adopted: September 4, 1975
MARCH 8, 1974

NTSB Number: HAR-75/06
NTIS Number: PB-246296/AS

At 1:5 0 p.m. on March 8, 1974, the driver of a tractor-trailer parked his vehicle on the shoulder of I-8, approximately 15 feet off the roadway at a location 35 miles west of El Centro, California, in the Jacumba Mountains.
At 1:30 p.m. on the same date, a 1972 Dodge Sportsman multipurpose vehicle (MPV) departed from the El Centro, California, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detention facility via 1-8, bound for Jacumba, California. The vehicle was transporting 18 Mexican nationals. The MPV ascended the eastern slope of westbound I-8, left the roadway, and crashed into the rear of the parked tractor-trailer at 2:15 p.m. The driver and 12 of the 18 passengers were killed, and the 6 survivors received minor to severe injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this collision was that the MPV left the roadway and collided with a tractor-trailer parked approximately 15 feet off of the pavement. The MPV left the roadway because it was not under the control of the driver for reasons unknown.


The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that:

The Federal Highway Administration:

1. Clarify the wording of 40 CFR 392.22(b)l, General Rule for Placement of Warning Devices, as follows (revision underlined):
"(1) General Rule. Except as provided in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph, whenever a vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or within xx feet thereof for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver shall . . . . (Recommendation H-75-23 (Class I)

2. Whenever possible, design future Motorist Aid Facilities which will comply with the requirement for 30 feet of clear roadside recovery area. (Recommendation H-75-24) (Class III)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

3. Issue a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) which will set guidelines, based on human-factors research, for seat installation for after-market installers. (Recommendation H-75-25) (Class III)

4. Conduct research on crash dynamics for sideward-sitting occupants, and develop and issue adequate standards for their protection. (Recommendation H-75-26) (Class III)

The Civil Service Commission:

5. Require that all Federal agencies operating motor vehicles adhere to the "Physical Standards for Motor Vehicle Operators and Incidental Operators" in the Federal Personnel Manual. (Recommendation H-75-27) (Class I)

The Immigration and Naturalization Service:

6. Review its hiring procedures to assure that only medically qualified applicants are accepted for employment as drivers. (Recommendation H-75-28) (Class I)

7. Consider revision of their operating procedures for transport of aliens in externally secured compartments to assure that help will be available in an emergency to assist in the evacuation of the vehicle. (Recommendation H-75-29) (Class I)

The U. S. Department of Justice:

8. Consider the problem of emergency evacuation of persons being transported under confinement, and develop guidelines which will insure safe evacuation under highway accident involvements. Disseminate such guidelines to all Federal, State, and local agencies that transport persons under confinement for their consideration and use. (Recommendation H-75-30) (Class I)