NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


July 31, 1998

Washington, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will conduct a public hearing on August 12, 1998, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Riviera Hotel to discuss crashworthiness factors of buses. The purpose of the hearing is to explore what can be done to protect occupants in bus crashes, including: bus standards and restraints used in other countries; types of possible restraints; and other types of injury reducing mechanisms.

The Safety Board will convene the hearing at 10:00 a.m., at the Riviera Hotel, 2901 Las Vegas Boulevard South, in Royale 9 and 10, following the closing session of the School Transportation News, Western Regional Conference. During the hearing, NTSB's Office of Highway Safety will investigate seven bus accidents. The majority of these accidents, which resulted in nine fatalities and 121 injuries, occurred while children were being transported to or from school or school related activities.

"The Safety Board has had a long-term interest in ensuring the safety of passengers being transported on school buses, motor coaches and transit buses," said NTSB Board Member George Black, who will chair the hearing. "We believe that it is appropriate to gather different perspectives and viewpoints from interested parties, -- including bus manufacturers, the medical community, the regulators and others -- to emphasize the complexity of the safety issues involved."

The NTSB's special investigation is scheduled to be completed next spring. It will address areas of concern such as: occupant fatalities, injuries, ejections, bus standards and definitions, accident data and statistics, and comparisons of standards and restraints in the United States with other countries.

Currently, the NTSB's Office of Highway Safety is investigating the following bus accidents: Flagstaff, Az, school bus high-speed rollover; Easton, Md, tractor-semitrailer/school bus collision; Monticello, Mn, tractor-semitrailer/school bus collision; Lancaster, Oh, school bus/truck collision; Sinton, Tx. school bus/train collision; Buffalo, Mt., school bus/train collision; and Lenoir, Tn., truck/bus collision.

NTSB's hearings, which are fact-gathering sessions, are designed to clarify accident information and to air, in a public forum, significant new issues. During the hearing in Las Vegas, the Board will gather information to assist in the development of recommendations to ensure passenger safety aboard school buses and motor coaches throughout the country.

Member George Black, who will serve as Chairman of the hearing, has been a member of the Board since February, 1996, and is the first practicing highway engineer to be a Board member. Prior to coming to the Safety Board, Member Black served as Director of Transportation for Gwinenett County Georgia. During has 23 year tenure, he became the first traffic engineer for the county; helped found the County Police Department's fatal accident investigation unit and assisted in the investigation of more than 2,000 fatal or critical-injury traffic crashes and rail-highway grade crossing incidents. Additionally, he taught accident investigation and reconstruction in the county and state police academies for 23 years.

Member Black is a 1968 graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and is a registered professional engineer. While at Georgia tech, Member Black worked on one of the original Multi-Disciplinary Traffic Crash Investigation Teams funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The NTSB is an independent federal agency empowered by the Congress to determine the probable cause of transportation accidents and to make recommendations to improve safety.



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.