Highway Accident Report

Adopted: April 13, 1978
U.S. ROUTE 69,
JULY 14, 1977

NTSB Number: HAR-78/02
NTIS Number: PB-282171/AS


About 4:20 p.m., on July 14, 1977, a 1972 Ford Sedan southbound on U.S. Route 69 about 19.4 miles south of McAlester, Oklahoma, went out of control on wet pavement, crossed the centerline sideways and collided with a northbound Midas Mini Motor Home. All six persons in the sedan were killed; the driver and right front passenger in the motor home were also killed and the six other passengers of the motor home were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was a combination of the low skid resistance of the wet road surface and the lax operating maintenance by the owner of the Ford sedan which permitted the use of an unsafe tire and the imbalanced capability of the brake system. A factor contributing to the accident was the driver's unfamiliarity with the mechanical condition of the Ford sedan. Contributing to the severity of the injuries were the failure of the front seat occupants of the motor home to wear the available seatbelts and the failure of the door latch assembly.

The Board made recommendations to the State of Oklahoma, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States, Inc.


As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended:

to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation:

"Post warning signs conforming to the requirements of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices on the resurfaced 5.18-mile section of U.S. Route 69 to advise motorists that the surface is slippery when wet. These signs should be maintained until the skid resistance on the overlay surface is increased. (Class I, Urgent Action) (H-77-35) (Issued January 10, 1978)

"Evaluate the pavement design and construction practices used on this project in order to eliminate any possibility for this condition to reoccur. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-77-36) (Issued January 10, 1978)

"Expedite the application of necessary materials to remedy the low skid resistance condition on the 5.18-mile resurfaced section of U.S. Route 69. (Class II, Priority Action) (U-77-37) (Issued January 10, 1978)”

to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

"Revise FMVSS 206 to require performance tests on door latch assemblies rather than the nondynamic, laboratory tests as described in the Society of Automotive Engineers Recommended Practice, SAE J8396. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-78-15) (Issued March 22, 1978)

"Work with the Society of Automotive Engineers to devise methods of testing to demonstrate experimentally the satisfactory performance of latching systems. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-78-16)” (Issued March 22, 1978)

to the State of Oklahoma Department of Transportation:

"Have its skid trailer calibrated at a Federal Highway Administration test center as soon as possible and inform the Safety Board when the calibration is completed. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-78-17)"

to the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States, Inc.:

"Inform its members of the details of the unwanted actuation of the door latch and encourage them to consider ways to prevent such failures in the manufacture of future door-latch assemblies. (Class I, Urgent Action) (H-78-18)"

to the Federal Highway Administration:

"Develop expeditiously procedures to determine the skid resistant characteristics of newly constructed and resurfaced roadways before they are opened to the public. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-78-19)"