Highway Accident Report

Adopted: April 3, 1984
VALLEY SUPPLY COMPANY
TRUCK TOWING FARM PLOW/
ANCHOR MOTOR FREIGHT INC.
CAR-CARRIER TRUCK/NEW YORK-
STATE ASSOCIATION FOR RETARDED CHILDREN BUS
COLLISION AND FIRE, STATE ROUTE 6,
NEAR HOLMESVILLE, NEW YORK
APRIL 5, 1983

NTSB Number: HAR-84/01
NTIS Number: PB84-916201


SYNOPSIS

On April 5, 1983, a 2-ton flatbed truck, loaded with a farm plow and towing another farm plow, was traveling southbound on a two-lane, two-way rural highway near Holmesville, New York. An adult passenger bus, with 20 persons on board, was following the flatbed truck at a distance of about 100 feet. As both vehicles entered a 3,820-foot radius right curve, the towed plow suddenly separated from its hitch attachments and veered left into the opposing northbound traffic lane. A northbound tractor car-carrier semitrailer struck the plow, rupturing the tractor's left front tire. As a result, the driver lost control of the vehicle, and the vehicle veered left across the highway centerline and collided head-on with the bus. The busdriver and four bus passengers were killed. The truckdriver of the car carrier and nine bus passengers were hospitalized with various degrees of injury. Six bus passengers were treated and released.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the towing of a farm plow on a highway at a speed which did not permit the farm plow to track properly behind the flatbed truck and the use of an unapproved tow hitch device. Contributing to the cause was the failure to use safety chains to preclude vehicle separation in the event of a tow hitch failure. Contributing to the severity of injuries of some of the bus passengers was the lack of effective occupant protection from secondary impacts with interior surfaces.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

to the New York State Department of Transportation:

Revise, if necessary, your procedures for purchasing special-purpose buses to provide end users full information about the types of vehicles and the safety options available. Provide the end user with a copy of the agreed-upon purchase specifications. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-5)

Require that all emergency exits are properly labeled both on the interior and exterior of special-purpose buses and that these exits are readily accessible exits. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-6)

Install placards on the front, rear, and sides of mass transportation vehicles which routinely carry mentally and physically handicapped persons to alert motorists and rescue personnel to the fact that bus passengers may have mobility and other impairments and may need special assistance in evacuating the vehicle in an emergency situation. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-7)

to the 50 States and the District of Columbia:

When purchasing buses of the types designed to meet the Federal standards for schoolbuses built after April 1977, which are intended for special-purpose uses in which the standards are not mandatory, conduct an evaluation of any proposed modifications for their possible adverse effects on the safety of the intended passengers. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84 -8)

to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles:

Seek amendment of Section 375.29a of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law to require the use of safety chains, cables, or other redundant devices with any dolly that is used for transporting a vehicle on public highways that is incapable of being towed on its own wheels (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-9)

to the New York State Association for Retarded Children:

Require all drivers to wear seatbelts while operating the Association's vehicles. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-10)