Highway Accident Report

Adopted: April, 25, 1989
INTERCITY-TYPE BUSES CHARTERED
FOR SERVICE TO
ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY
LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY--July 23,1988
TINTON FALLS, NEW JERSEY--NOVEMBER 29,1988

NTSB Number: HAR-89/01S
NTIS Number: PB89-916201


SYNOPSIS

From 1986 through 1988, the Safety Board investigated four accidents involving commercial charter bus operations serving Atlantic City, New Jersey. Three accidents involved intercity buses en route to and one accident involved an intercity bus on its return trip from Atlantic City. In each accident there were no apparent weather, highway, or vehicle issues that were causal or contributing factors. Rather, each accident involved busdriver performance issues that were causal. The Board decided to focus on these accidents because of the common busdriver performance issues and because of the large number of buses serving Atlantic City. According to data from the Atlantic County Transportation Authority, approximately 1,700 buses enter Atlantic City daily.

In 1986, the Safety Board investigated the rear-end collision of a tractor-semitrailer by a Leatherwood Motor Coach Corporation intercity bus on September 29, 1986. The bus was northbound on 1-295 near Carney's Point en route to Atlantic City via the Atlantic City Expressway when it struck the rear of the slower moving tractor-semitrailer. The busdriver and 38 passengers received minor to serious injuries. The Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the busdriver's inattention to his driving task and his misjudgment of the closing speed between the bus and the truck in front of him.

On September 6, 1987, an Academy Lines, Inc., intercity bus returning from Atlantic City, ran off the roadway and overturned near Middletown Township, New Jersey. The busdriver and one passenger were killed, and 32 passengers received minor to moderate injuries. The Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the busdriver's lack of vigilance which resulted in his failure to perceive that his vehicle was leaving the roadway.

In 1988, the Safety Board investigated two more commercial charter passenger intercity bus accidents involving groups en route to Atlantic City; one in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, on July 23 and the other in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, on November 29. In the Little Egg Harbor Township accident, the busdriver lost control of the bus and it ran off the highway. In the Tinton Falls accident, the busdriver lost control of the bus and it overturned. Both accidents occurred on the Garden State Parkway; there was no fire or other vehicles involved, and a total of 95 passengers received minor to severe injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of these accidents were:

Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

The busdriver's impairment from the recent use of cocaine while on duty which resulted in the loss of control of her vehicle.

Tinton Falls, New Jersey

The busdriver's inattention which resulted in the loss of control of his vehicle.

The safety issues discussed in the Little Egg Harbor Township and Tinton Falls accidents include:

busdriver drug abuse (Little Egg Harbor),

busdriver inattention (Tinton Falls),

busdriver failure to use seatbelt-(Tinton Falls), and

crashworthiness of the intercity bus--advantageous performance of abrasion-resistant coated acrylic windows and potentially dangerous broken bus seat arm rests (Tinton Falls).

No safety recommendations were made as a result of the accident at Little Egg Harbor Township. However, five safety recommendations have been made as a result of the accident at Tinton Falls. Recommendations were addressed to Leisure Time, Inc., on busdriver seatbelt usage; to the United Bus Owners of American and the American Bus Association to inform their members of the favorable-performance of acrylic bus windows; to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if a defect investigation is warranted concerning seat armrests used in intercity buses; to the New Jersey Department of Transportation on the priorities of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program concerning accidents involving commercial passenger buses; and to the Federal Highway Administration to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to require operators of commercial passenger-carrying motor vehicles to obtain pertinent information about applicants' employment histories, driving experience, training and to determine that applicants are fully qualified before permitting them to operate passenger-carrying vehicles.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

to Leisure Time, Inc.:

Require that all busdrivers use available seatbelts while the vehicle is in motion. (Class II, Priority Action)(H-89-15)

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

Advise members of the safety benefits that accrued from use of the abrasion-resistant, coated acrylic windows in protecting the bus passengers when the bus overturned and slid on its right side in the November 29, 1988, accident in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-89-16)

to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Evaluate the armrest separation problem on seats manufactured by Wakefield International Seating, Inc., to determine if a defect investigation is warranted. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-89-17)

to the New Jersey Department of Transportation:

In conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration perform in-depth safety reviews (terminal inspections) of motor carriers transporting passengers for hire (specifically servicing Atlantic City, New Jersey) to ensure that motor carriers have adequate management systems in place to properly select, supervise, and monitor recently hired drivers. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-89-18)

to the Federal Highway Administration:

Amend 49 CFR 391.23 to require operators of commercial passenger-carrying motor vehicles to obtain pertinent information, i.e., previous employment history, driving records, driving experience, and training, and to determine that the applicants are fully qualified and adequately trained, before permitting them to operate commercial passenger-carrying vehicles. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-89-19)