Highway Accident Report

Adopted: May 2, 1985
SCHOOLBUS LOSS OF CONTROL ACCIDENTS
IN MIAMI, FLORIDA, SEPTEMBER 28,1983,
AND BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, APRIL 12, 1984

NTSB NUMBER: HAR-85/03
NTIS NUMBER: PB85-916204


SYNOPSES

About 1:55 p.m., on September 28, 1983, a privately-owned 1971 schoolbus, being operated for profit and carrying 37 elementary school children, was traveling in the left westbound lane of U.S. Route 41 in Miami, Florida. The bus began to weave within the travel lanes, veered left onto the adjacent grass median of the dry, four-lane, divided roadway, swerved back into the travel lanes, overturned on Its left side, and came to rest facing east. The busdriver and 30 students received minor to moderate injuries; 7 students were not injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the Miami accident was operation of the schoolbus with severely underinflated and overloaded rear tires which led to the failure of the busdriver to regain steering control of the fully loaded seboolbus after attempting a corrective steering maneuver at a speed above 25 mph. Contributing to the accident was the busdriver's distraction from her driving duties by an unruly student passenger.

About 8:05 a.m., on April 12, 1984, a privately-owned 1965 schoolbus, being operated under contract and carrying an adult aide and 25 mentally retarded and physically handicapped students, accelerated out of control while descending a steep, one-block-long grade in Birmingham, Alabama. The bus failed to stop at the Intersection at the bottom of the downgrade and struck a large tree head-on. The busdriver and 7 students sustained moderate injuries, the adult aide and 8 students were treated for minor injuries, and 10 students escaped injury.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the Birmingham accident was the loss of vehicle braking due to inadequate maintenance which prevented the busdriver from slowing the bus on the steep grade. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the vehicle owner to correct the known brake system deficiencies. Contributing to the accident severity was the lack of fail-safe features in the 1965 schoolbus brake system to prevent a total loss of braking.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendations:

--to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia:

Amend State motor vehicle Inspection laws to require that all privately-owned pupil transportation vehicles be inspected annually. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-8)

--to the State of Florida, Department of High way Safety and Motor Vehicles:

Adopt regulations to require the owner of a private bus to declare annually when the vehicle is registered if the bus Is to be used for pupil transportation, and institute procedures to use the data to identify all privately-owned and privately-operated schoolbuses that are subject to the vehicle inspection and driver certification requirements In Florida State Statute 316.615. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-9)

Contact private schoolbus owners who have not had their buses Inspected, aan advise them that they are in violation of Florida State Statute 316.615. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-10)

Instruct law enforcement officers to verify on a continuing basis compliance with the requirement for annual inspection of privately-owned schoolbuses stated in Florida State Statute 316.615 through a systematic program of roadside vehicle checks and on each occasion a private schoolbus Is stopped for a driver violation or a specific vehicle safety violation. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-11)

--to all States and the District of Columbia:

Develop a model Instructional program to be used by local school districts targeted at drivers of privately-owned and privately-operated pupil transportation vehicles that Includes a review of all applicable laws, regulations, and policies governing pupil transportation safety, first-aid, and pretrip inspections, and encourage drivers of privately-owned and privately-operated pupil transportation vehicles to participate In the program. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-12)

--to the Directors of Pupil Transportation of all States and the District of Columbia:

Incorporate Into existing and future transportation contracts within your State or District minimum stand for schoolbus driver certification, licensing, and training, and for schoolbus inspection and maintenance comparable to those applicable to publicly-operated schoolbuses and drivers of public schoolbuses. Enforce these vehicle and driver standards. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-13)

--to the National Parent-Teacher Association:

Encourage local Parent-Teacher Associations and local school boards In each State and the District of Columbia to conduct surveys to identify drivers of public schoolbuses and privately-owned schoolbuses who engage In unsafe pupil transportation practices, and report the findings to the State or local police. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-14)

Urge local Parent-Teacher Associations to conduct programs to inform parents about State safety requirements for schoolbus drivers and schoolbus inspections. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-85-15)