Highway Accident Report

Adopted: June 23, 1993
CHARTER BUS LOSS OF CONTROL
OVERTURN, AND FIRE
VERNON, NEW JERSEY
JULY 26, 1992

NTSB Number: HAR-93/02
NTIS Number: PB93-916201


SYNOPSIS
On Sunday, July 26, 1992, about 11:10 a.m., the driver of a charter bus traveling from Brooklyn, New York to Vernon, New Jersey, lost control of the bus as it descended a steep hill. The bus struck a car, overturned on its right side, slid and spun on its side, uprighted, and struck another car before coming to rest. A fire ensued, burning the bus and the second car. Twelve passengers were ejected from the bus during the collision; six of them died. The driver and the other 37 bus passengers sustained minor to serious injuries. The two car drivers sustained minor injuries, and the car passenger was uninjured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the busdriver/owner's failure to maintain the bus adequately and his deliberate disregard in choosing to operate the bus with known brake deficiencies. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the New York Department of Transportation to inspect the bus and ensure that its deficiencies were corrected. Also contributing to the accident was the inadequacy of the Federal Highway Administration's system for identifying motor carriers.

The safety issues addressed in this report include the following:
· the deteriorated braking efficiency of the accident bus;
· the busdriver's initial gear selection in descending County Route (CR) 515 and his subsequent attempt to downshift during the descent;
· the adequacy of State and Federal oversight of motor carrier operations;
· the adequacy of highway 'signing to prepare drivers for descending CR 515;
· the adequacy of New York State commercial vehicle inspections and safety/compliance reviews.

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board issued safety recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, the New York Department of Transportation, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the United Bus Owners of America, and the American Bus Association.

RECOMMENDATIONS

to the Federal Highway Administration:

Require any carrier that changes its name or principal place-of-business address to update its MCS-150 promptly. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-93-27)

Develop a systematic and continual process of identification of carriers subject to the Federal Highway Administration's jurisdiction that includes the immediate entry of new carriers onto the Motor Carrier Management Information System, systematically accessing available State record systems, and maintaining contact with the Interstate Commerce Commission concerning new motor carriers. Devise a method of verifying that the process results in the identification of the entire carrier population. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-93-28)

to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles

Issue registration plates for commercial vehicles capable of transporting' passengers only after the vehicle has passed an inspection.(Class II, Priority Action) (H-93-29)

to the New York Department of Transportation

Conduct periodic roadside inspections to identify buses that are not fit for service and prohibit them from operating, regardless of whether passengers are on board, until they have passed inspection. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-93-30)

to the American Association of motor Vehicle Administrators:

Ascertain which States do not require mechanical inspections of vehicles capable of transporting passengers before issuing registration plates and then, recommend that those States issue registration plates for these vehicles only after the vehicle has an inspection. (Class II, priority Action) (H-93-31)

to the United Bus Owners of America:

Advise members of the circumstances of this accident and urge them to report any suspected safety violations or uninspected buses to the appropriate authorities. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-93-32)

to the American Bus Association:

Advise members of the circumstances of this accident and urge them to report any suspected safety violations or uninspected buses to the appropriate authorities. (Class II, Priority Action) (H-93-33)