Highway Accident Report

Adopted: September 15, 1981
CONTINENTAL TRAILWAYS, INC.
SCHEDULED INTERCITY BUS/
MULTIPLE-VEHICLE COLLISION AND FIRE
INTERSTATE ROUTE 95
NEAR BELTSVILLE, MARYLAND
APRIL 20, 1981

NTSB Number: HAR-81/05
NTIS Number: PB82-117524


SYNOPSIS

About 5:55 p.m. on April 20, 1981, a scheduled intercity bus with 34 passengers on board was southbound on Interstate Route 95 (I-95) en route to Washington, D.C., via Silver Spring, Maryland. As the bus approached the Interstate Route 495 (Capital Beltway) interchange, the traffic ahead in the right lane slowed and came to a stop. The bus failed to stop, crashed into the rear of the automobile ahead of it, and precipitated a four-car, front-to-rear-end collision. Two of the automobiles burst into flames which quickly spread to and engulfed the bus after it had been evacuated. Three occupants of the automobile struck by the bus were killed. The drivers of the other three automobiles, the busdriver, and the 34 bus passengers received minor injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the busdriver to maintain a safe stopping distance between the bus and the automobile ahead as traffic ahead slowed and came to a stop during the peak traffic period. Contributing to the cause and severity of the fires was the separation of the filler pipes from the fuel tanks of two of the automobiles.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

to the Maryland Department of Transportation:

Review conditions at the 1-95/495 interchange and determine if the planned safety improvements should be expedited. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-81-71)