Highway Accident Report

Adopted: May 24, 1988
ACADEMY LINES, INC., INTERCITY BUS
RUN-OFF-ROADWAY AND OVERTURN
MIDDLETOWN, NEW JERSEY
SEPTEMBER 6,1987

NTSB Number: HAR-88/03
NTIS Number: PB88-916203


SYNOPSIS

On September 6,1987, at 5 a.m. an intercity bus operated by Academy Lines, Inc.. ran off the northbound local lane of the New Jersey Garden State Parkway at milepost 111, struck a guardrail and bridge rail, and overturned onto its right side. The busdriver and one passenger, the busdriver's 13-year-old son, sustained fatal injuries, and 32 of the remaining 33 bus passengers sustained minor to moderate injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause a this accident was the busdriver's lack of vigilance which resulted in his failure to perceive that his vehicle was leaving the roadway. The busdriver's lack of vigilance resulted from the combined adverse effects of sleep deprivation, illness due to a cold or influenza, and a high dosage of medication probably ingested to treat the symptoms of that illness and to control his weight.

This report discusses several safety issues including the lack of a Federal rule which requires an employing motor carrier to verify the authenticity of a medical examiner's certificate presented to it by a driver applicant; the present lack of a Federal rule requiring that commercial vehicle drivers forward a record of duty status to the employing motor carrier when the record is completed; and the adequacy of the bridge rail at the accident site.

The report concludes that the Federal Highway Administration should promulgate a rule which requires the prospective employer of a commercial vehicle driver applicant to verify the authenticity of any medical examiner's certificate presented to it by a driver applicant if the examining physician was not selected by the motor carrier, that the Federal Highway Administration should re-institute a rule, eliminated in 1983 in the interest of reducing the paperwork burden on motor carriers, which requires that a duty status record be forwarded to the employing motor carrier upon completion of the record; and that the New Jersey Highway Authority replace the bridge rail at the accident site with 42-inch-high extended New Jersey Safety Shape bridge rail. The report contains two new safety improvement recommendations and reiterates a 1985 safety improvement recommendation that address these issues.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterated Safety Recommendation H-85-20 to the Federal Highway Administration:

Revise Section 395.8(i) of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require that drivers forward each duty status record to the employing motor carrier immediately upon completion.

In addition, the Safety Board issued the following recommendations:

-to the Federal Highway Administration:

Revise Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to require a motor carrier to verify the authenticity of a medical examiner's certificate if the certificate has been prepared by a physician who has not been selected by the motor carrier to perform the examination. Information concerning the fact that verification was made should be retained as part of the driver's qualification file. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-24)

-to the New Jersey Highway Authority:

Replace existing steel bridge rail on the Garden State Parkway with 42-inch-high extended New Jersey Safety Shape bridge rail. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-88-25)