Highway Accident Report

Adopted: October 30, 1984
JULY 5, 1984

NTSB Number: HAR-84/07
NTIS Number: PB84-916207


About 8:40 a.m., central daylight time, on July 5p 19849 a northbound tractor-semitrailer jackkknifed and struck a southbound police patrol car on two-lane U. S. Route 71 about 1 mile south of Ashdown, Arkansas. The patrol car was destroyed, and the four police officers inside were killed. The truck was damaged moderately; the truckdriver was injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the driver of the tractor-semitrailer combination to maintain a proper interval from the preceding automobile which required a sudden brake application to avoid a collision with the preceding Automobile when it slowed unexpectedly, and resulted in his tractor jackknifing and entering the oncoming traffic lane. Contributing to the accident were the improperly adjusted service brakes on both the tractor and semitrailer.


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

--to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc.:

Develop a recommended policy to clarify the use of emergency signalling equipment by police in nonemergency conditions. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-91)

Develop a recommended policy to the States -which will prompt law enforcement personnel to request medical testing for the presence of alcohol in the blood of all truckdrivers involved In serious accidents. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-92)

--to the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety:

Issue an "On-Guard" Bulletin which discusses the circumstances of the accident in Ashdown, Arkansas, on July 5, 1984, with particular reference to tailgating by trucks, improper adjustment-of truck brakes, and the tendency of trucks to jackknife on wet pavement. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-93)

--to the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory:

Instruct State Police officers to request that two separate vials of blood containing 5 ml each be collected for alcohol and drug analysis in serious and fatal accident investigations and that the samples be refrigerated until they can be transported to a laboratory for analysis and not be held in an officer's possession except for direct transportation to the laboratory. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-94)

Provide State Police officers with commercially available blood collection kits which contain the necessary materials for drawing blood under sterile conditions, two sterile containers for the blood samples that are precharged with an appropriate preservative and anticoagulant, and labels for identifying the samples. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-84-95)

JIM BURNETT, Chairman, filed the following statement, dissenting in part:
I would add the following sentence to the probable cause: "Also contributing to the cause of the accident was the intoxication of the driver of the tractor-semitrailer."