Aircraft Accident Report

Report of Proceedings
National Transportation Safety Board Public
Forum on Driver Education and Training
October 28-29, 2003

NTSB Number RP-05/01
NTIS Number PB2005-917003| PDF Document(2.6 MB)

Executive Summary: More than 4,000 teen traffic fatalities occur on the Nation’s roadways each year.  To help determine what can be done to prevent them, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) convened a public forum in Washington, DC, on October 28 and 29, 2003, to consider issues related to driver education and training.

Speakers from Federal agencies, State governments, Europe, Canada, driver education and traffic safety associations and companies, as well as students, teachers, and researchers addressed the forum. Speakers discussed the history and current state of novice driver education and training, the extent to which it is used, and its quality and effectiveness. Speakers also explored the strengths and weaknesses in driver education and training and what can be done to improve it. Private, State and Federal programs (both here and abroad), experiences with current driver education programs, and new initiatives to improve driver education were also discussed.

The decision to hold the forum was prompted by an accident that occurred near Belgrade, Montana, on January 23, 2003. On that day, about 3:20 p.m., a 1997 Oldsmobile Achieva, operated by a 14-year-old participant in the driver education program at Manhattan Christian School, was westbound on Amsterdam Road (State Route 347) west of Belgrade. Also in the vehicle were two other students, ages 14 and 15, and the driver education instructor, age 49. Amsterdam Road, a two-lane rural roadway (70 mph speed limit), was wet with snow and slush that had accumulated on the edges of the roadway and in the center of the westbound lane. The weather was overcast and partly sunny; the temperature was about 37° F.

About the same time, a 1991 International tractor-semitrailer combination vehicle, operated by a 29-year-old driver, was eastbound on Amsterdam Road, crossing a short bridge over a drainage ditch. According to the truckdriver, both vehicles were traveling 35 to 45 mph when he saw the Oldsmobile begin to “fishtail” and veer into the eastbound lane, directly in front of him. He said he tried to avoid the collision by steering to his left. The tractor-semitrailer struck the Oldsmobile on the right side, causing it to rotate clockwise and plunge down a 10-foot embankment on the south side of the roadway. The truck came to rest facing north on the roadway, blocking both travel lanes.

The four occupants of the Oldsmobile, all of whom were wearing seat belts, sustained fatal injuries. The truckdriver, who was also wearing his seat belt, was not injured.

Some of the speakers’ remarks in these proceedings have been edited. A public docket (HWY-03-MH-018) has been established for this forum. In addition to verbatim transcripts of the speakers’ presentations, the docket contains administrative information pertaining to the hearing. Additional information about the public docket may be obtained from the Public Inquiries Section, RE-51, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC, 20594, 800-877-6799 or 202-314-6551.