Highway Accident Report

Adopted: December 22, 1977
AUGUST 20, 1976

NTSB Number: HAR-77/03
NTIS Number: PB-277986/AS


About 7:04 p.m., on August 20, 1976, a tractor-semitrailer descending a steep grade in Valley View, Ohio, collided with 10 automobiles that were stopped at a signalized intersection near the bottom of the grade. Fire ensued. Eight of the 27 automobile occupants died and 15 were injured; the truckdriver sustained minor injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the inability of the improperly adjusted and partially inoperative service brake system on the tractor-semitrailer to adequately slow the vehicle as it descended the grade. Inadequate pre-trip inspection by the driver and the lack of required maintenance and inspection by the carrier failed to identify and to correct the unsafe condition of the brake systems. The failure of the road signs to provide advance warning information concerning the length and steepness of the grade and the presence of the signalized intersection, prevented the driver from taking early evasive action.
The Board made recommendations to the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety, the State of Ohio.


As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board made the following recommendations:

to the State of Ohio:

"Conduct, in cooperation with the city of Garfield Heights and the Village of Valley View, a traffic survey and analysis of that part of State Route 17 (Granger Road), extending from the approach to the hill crest in Garfield Heights to Canal Road in Valley View, to determine and install needed advance warning signs which will provide drivers of all types of vehicles information relating to the length and steepness of the grade and the presence of the signalized intersection. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-77-38)

"Consider amending State laws to allow the Director of Transportation to place and maintain traffic control devices that conform to its manual and specifications, upon all extensions of State highways through local jurisdictions. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-77-39)"

to the Federal Highway Administration:

"Require the State of Ohio to renew its emphasis toward the implementation at the local level of established procedures for the accurate identification of accident locations on all roads and streets as outlined in Highway Safety Program Standard No. 9, Chapter 7, Sections 3A, B, and C. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-77-40)

"Require local jurisdictions to obtain State approval before installing traffic control devices on State routes through their jurisdictions. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-77-41)"

to the U.S. Department of Transportation:

"Seek the necessary funding from the Congress to increase the resources of the Federal Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety to enable it to increase its activities devoted to the roadside inspection of commercial motor vehicles and the safety compliance survey of carrier operations. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-77-42)"

to the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety of the U.S. Department of Transportation:

"Request added resources to give greater priority to increased roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles and safety compliance surveys of carrier operations to insure greater compliance of vehicle maintenance operations and records. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-17-43)"