National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. - The failure of a substitute school bus driver to discern visual and audible warnings of an oncoming train, combined with poor training and oversight by the State of Illinois, were cited as causes of the October 25, 1995 Fox River Grove, Illinois school bus accident in which seven high school students were killed and 24 were injured, said the National Transportation Safety Board today.
On October 25, 1995, at 7:10 a.m., the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (Metropolitan Rail) express commuter train 624 struck the rear left side of a stopped Transportation Joint Agreement School District 47/155 school bus at a railroad-highway grade crossing in Fox River Grove, Illinois. After the school bus crossed the railroad tracks and stopped for a red traffic signal, its rear extended about 3 feet into the path of the train. Of the 35 school bus passengers, 7 were killed, 24 suffered serious to minor injuries, and 4 received no injuries. The bus driver received minor injuries. The 120 passengers and 3 crew members aboard the commuter train were uninjured.
At a public meeting today in its Washington, D.C. headquarters, the NTSB determined the probable cause of the school bus accident to be the bus driver's failure to heed the visual and audible warnings of an approaching train and the Illinois school bus authority's poor training and route design.
In order to prevent similar accidents, the NTSB issued 28 recommendations to several agencies. Among the most significant are the recommendations to the State of Illinois and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services that they advise the school bus drivers of the circumstances of this accident and provide guidance about the placement of a school bus on the road, particularly in the vicinity of railroad or highway grade crossings.
The NTSB also recommended to the U.S. Department of Transportation that it develop railroad and highway grade crossing inspection standards and that the Federal Highway Administration provide guidelines on methods of delineating the zone that a train may occupy on the track so that motorists have a visual reference point to ascertain whether their vehicle is encroaching on the path of the train.
The NTSB's complete report, PB96-916202, may be purchased from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal, Springfield, VA 22161, (703) 487-4650.
Media Contact: NTSB Office of Public Affairs
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.