NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


STATEMENT BY JIM HALL, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD RELATED TO THE FATAL BUS CRASH IN NEW ORLEANS

May 12, 1999

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fatal motor coach crash in New Orleans which killed 22 passengers on Sunday, May 9, 1999. Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall released the following statement about Safety Board concerns in connection with the crash:

"The Safety Board is concerned about the effectiveness of oversight of the motor coach industry, which is why we held a three-day public hearing on this issue just last month. We believe the oversight that exists is inadequate and does not place enough safety responsibility on the carriers and their drivers. It is well understood that the safety records of motor coach companies and their drivers are the best means of predicting future crashes. The Safety Board also has received reports concerning the physical health of the driver in this crash. While we have made no conclusions as to whether the driver's health played any role in this crash, driver health is an important issue that we believe is not being addressed effectively by the Office of Motor Carriers and Highway Safety.

"Our investigation of this crash already is hampered by the fact that this vehicle was not equipped with a crash recorder that might have provided valuable information about any interaction between the bus and any other vehicles on the road. The electronic control module that was removed from the bus was not designed to be a crash recorder and will provide limited information. The installation of event recorders on motor coaches and other vehicles is on the Safety Board's 10 Most Wanted list of safety improvements and was the subject of a seminar that we conducted just last week.

"The Safety Board also has been conducting a study on the crashworthiness of motor coaches such as the one involved in the New Orleans crash. We are very concerned about passengers being ejected from these vehicles and whether seat belts may reduce the possibility of ejection. Although that study is not complete and the Safety Board has no pending recommendations about seat belts in motor coaches, this is an issue that we will be looking into in connection with this crash."

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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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.