National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board today determined that the probable cause of a crash that occurred on an elevated highway ramp in Atlanta, Georgia was the motorcoach driver's mistaking an Interstate high occupancy vehicle (HOV)-only left exit ramp for an HOV through lane. Contributing to the driver's mistake was the failure of the Georgia Department of Transportation to install adequate traffic control devices to identify and distinguish the two different HOV lanes. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the motorcoach's lack of an adequate occupant protection system.
"This accident demonstrates the need for clear and consistent highway signage and traffic devices across the U.S. interstate system, in order to provide reliable guidance to all motorists on our nation's highways," said Mark V. Rosenker, NTSB chairman. "In addition, the NTSB continues to call for a motorcoach passenger protection system which could reduce the number of fatalities and the severity of injuries suffered in accidents like this one in Atlanta."
On Friday, March 2, 2007, a 2000 VanHool T2145 57-passenger motorcoach operated by Executive Coach Luxury Travel, Inc., transporting 33 members of the Bluffton University (Ohio) baseball team, exited the HOV lane of Interstate 75 in Atlanta, Georgia, entered an intersection on an overpass, overrode a bridge wall, and fell 19 feet onto the southbound lanes of the Interstate. Seven motorcoach occupants were killed: the driver, the driver's wife, and five passengers. Seven other motorcoach passengers received serious injuries, and 21 passengers received minor injuries.
As a result of its investigation, the NTSB made five recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration regarding the uniformity of specific requirements, standards and criteria in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The NTSB also made five recommendations to the Georgia Department of Transportation regarding signage improvements.
The Board also reiterated four previous recommendations made in 1999 to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the need for improved motorcoach occupant protection systems and the installation of on-board recording systems that record vehicle parameters and crash data.
The Board's full report will be available on the website in several weeks.
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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.