Highway Accident Report

Adopted: February 2, 1988
TRACTOR-SEMITRAILER/INTERCITY BUS
HEAD-ON COLLISION
INTERSTATE l0
BEAUMONT, TEXAS
MAY 4, 1987

NTSB Number: HAR-88/01
NTIS Number: PB88-916201


SYNOPSIS

About 1:45 p.m. on May 4, 1987, while traveling eastbound on Interstate 10 (I-10) in Beaumont, Texas, a tractor-semitrailer (truck) operated by Graebel Van Lines, Inc. (GVL), Jackknifed in the center lane, veered leftward across the left land and median strip, and struck a Trailways bus traveling westbound on I-10 in the left lane. A small fire which started in the bus below the driver's seating area was quickly extinguished by a passerby. The busdriver and 5 bus passengers sustained fatal injuries, 17 bus passengers sustained serious to minor injuries, and 6 bus passengers were not injured. The truck driver and helper sustained moderate and minor injuries, respectively. It was raining at the time of the accident.

The safety issues discussed in the report include:

1. Adequacy of the driver supervision and vehicle maintenance practices of the motor carrier;

2. highway pavement deficiencies and adequacy
of highway maintenance practices in the State of Texas;

3. hydroplaning of commercial vehicles;

4. use of marginal tread depth of tires on commercial vehicles; and

5. crashworthiness of intercity and intracity buses.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the truck driver's operation of a tractor-semitrailer at a speed too great for existing weather conditions while traveling on a section of lightly flooded highway pavement. Contributing to the loss of control of the tractor-semitrailer was the inadequate tread depth of the rear tractor tires, the inoperative speedometer, the low surface texture of the pavement, the low friction of the lightly flooded pavement, and the improper corrective maintenance of the highway.

The Safety Board reiterated its previous recommendation to the Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation to develop a statewide comprehensive program for reducing skid accidents on low coefficient of friction roads. Also, the Safety Board made two recommendations each to the Federal Highway Administration, and one recommendation to the American Bus Associations (ABA), the United Bus Owners Of America (UBOA), and the American Trucking' Associations, Inc., concerning the use of marginal tires on commercial vehicles. The Safety Board also recommended that the ABA and the UBOA advise their membership about the crashworthiness of plastic laminated materials used in the interior linings of buses.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

-the Federal Highway Administration:

Revise Sections 393.75(b) and (c) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to prohibit the use of tires worn below 4/32 inch on any axle of a commercial inter-state vehicle. (Class II, Priority Action)(H-88-1)

Issue an On-Guard Bulletin to advise owners, operators, maintenance personnel, and State commercial vehicle inspectors of the problems associated with operating vehicles equipped with tires worn below 4/32-inch tread groove depths. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-2)

-the bus manufacturers:

Use material that will minimize potential injury to passengers when lining the interiors of intercity or intracity buses. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-3)

-the United Bus Owners of America and the American Bus Association:

Advise members of the circumstances of the May 4, 1987, accident in Beaumont, Texas, and the potential hazards which exist due to the separation of the interior lining of plastic laminate material. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-4)

-the United Bus Owners of America, the American Bus Association, the American Bus Association, and the Amercian Trucking Association:

Advise members of the circumstances of the May 4, 1987, accident in Beaumont, Texas, and the potential vehicle handling problems that may be encountered with using tires with marginal tread depth. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-5)

-the Graebel Van Lines, Inc.:

Make certain that all vehicles in commercial operation have operative speedometers. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-6)

Also, the Safety Board reiterates Safety Recommendation H-87-2 to the Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation: H-87-2

Develop a statewide comprehensive program for reducing skid accidents on low coefficient of friction roads. Include design and maintenance policy for reducing potential problems associated with bleeding, partial width resurfacing, and differential friction.