Highway Accident Report - Multiple Vehicle Crossover Accident

Slinger, Wisconsin
February 12, 1997

NTSB Number: HAR-98-01
NTIS Number: PB98-916203
Adopted July 24, 1998
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Executive Summary

About 5:52 a.m. on February 12, 1997, a doubles truck with empty trailers, operated by Consolidated Freightways, Inc., that was traveling northbound on U.S. Route 41, a four-lane divided limited access highway near Slinger, Wisconsin, lost control and crossed over the 50-foot depressed median into the southbound lanes. A flatbed truck loaded with lumber, operated by McFaul Transport, Inc., that was traveling southbound on U.S. Route 41 collided with the doubles truck, lost control, and crossed over the median into the northbound lanes. A northbound passenger van with nine adult occupants struck and underrode the right front side of the flatbed truck at the landing gear. A refrigerator truck loaded with produce, operated by Glandt/Dahlke, Inc., that was also traveling northbound, struck the right rear side of the flatbed truck. Although it had snowed from about 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. the night before, it was clear at the time of the accident. Other motorists and the emergency responders to the accident scene reported icy patches in the roadway. Eight of the nine van occupants suffered fatal injuries, and the remaining occupant suffered serious injuries. Two of the three commercial truckdrivers were treated for minor injuries and released; the third refused treatment.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the doubles truckdriver's lack of judgment in driving too fast for the configuration of his truck under the hazardous highway weather conditions. Contributing to the severity of the injuries and the reduced potentiality for survival was the lack of restraint use by the unrestrained occupants of the passenger van.

The major safety issues identified in this accident are:

  • Judgment and experience of the doubles truckdriver;
  • Stability of doubles trucks;
  • Effectiveness of snow and ice removal;
  • Adequacy of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials divided freeway median barrier warrants;
  • Adequacy of the States' accident report forms to capture cross-median accident data; and,
  • Availability and use of restraints.

As a result of this accident investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives, the American Trucking Associations, the Motor Freight Carrier Association, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Independent Truckers and Drivers Association, the National Private Truck Council, and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Associa-tion, Inc. Also, the Safety Board reiterates one recommendation to the State of Wisconsin.

Recommendations

As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:

To the Federal Highway Administration:

Work, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Motor Freight Carrier Association, to encourage the development and use of simulator-based training for heavy truck operators. (H-98-8)

Work, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Motor Freight Carrier Association, to conduct laboratory and truck fleet testing to assess the safety benefits of adding traction control devices to antilock brake systems and report your findings to the National Transportation Safety Board. (H-98-9)

Work, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Motor Freight Carrier Association, to encourage the trucking industry to gain experience with traction control devices through fleet tests. (H-98-10)

Distribute materials and provide funding through the Local Technology Application Program centers for the training of State and local government officials in the new anti-icing technologies. (H-98-11)

Review, with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the median barrier warrants and revise them as necessary to reflect changes in the factors affecting the probability of cross-median accidents, including changes in the vehicle fleet and the percentage of heavy trucks using the roadways. (H-98-12)

Include a data element for cross-median accidents in the Guideline for Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, which you are developing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives. (H-98-13)

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Work, together with the Federal Highway Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Motor Freight Carrier Association, to encourage the development and use of simulator-based training for heavy truck operators. (H-98-14)

Work, together with the Federal Highway Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Motor Freight Carrier Association, to conduct laboratory and truck fleet testing to assess the safety benefits of adding traction control devices to antilock brake systems and report your findings to the National Transportation Safety Board. (H-98-15)

Work, together with the Federal Highway Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Motor Freight Carrier Association, to encourage the trucking industry to gain experience with traction control devices through fleet tests. (H-98-16)

Include a data element for cross-median accidents in the Guideline for Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, which you are developing with the Federal Highway Administration and the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives. (H-98-17)

To the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives:

Include a data element for cross-median accidents in the Guideline for Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria, which you are developing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. (H-98-18)

To the American Trucking Associations, the Motor Freight Carrier Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

Work, together with the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to encourage the development and use of simulator-based training for heavy truck operators. (H-98-19)

Work, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, to conduct laboratory and truck fleet testing to assess the safety benefits of adding traction control devices to antilock brake systems and report your findings to the National Transportation Safety Board. (H-98-20)

Work, together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, to encourage the trucking industry to gain experience with traction control devices through fleet tests. (H-98-21)

Notify the trucking industry of the circumstances of the multiple vehicle crossover accident that took place in Slinger, Wisconsin, on February 12, 1997, and develop motor carrier guidelines for the operation of empty or lightly loaded multiple-trailer vehicles during inclement weather conditions. (H-98-22)

Advise your members to equip their commercial vehicle fleets with automated and tamper-proof on-board recording devices, such as tachographs or computerized recorders, to identify information concerning both driver and vehicle operating characteristics. (H-98-23)

To the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials:

Review, with the Federal Highway Administration, the median barrier warrants and revise them as necessary to reflect changes in the factors affecting the probability of cross-median accidents, including changes in the vehicle fleet and the percentage of heavy trucks using the roadways. (H-98-24)

To the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

Review your policies for snow and ice removal and 1) accelerate the use of new anti-icing technologies, 2) consider the use of abrasives when temperatures drop below 15F, and 3) take corrective action in open areas where wind could hinder the application and effectiveness of the salt and wetting solutions. (H-98-25)

To the Independent Truckers and Drivers Association, the National Private Truck Council, and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association, Inc.:

Advise your members to equip their commercial vehicle fleets with automated and tamper-proof on-board recording devices, such as tachographs or computerized recorders, to identify information concerning both driver and vehicle operating characteristics. (H-98-26)

Also as a result of its investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterates the following safety recommendation to the State of Wisconsin:

H-97-2
Enact legislation that provides for primary enforcement of mandatory seat belt use laws, including provisions such as the imposition of driver license penalty points and appropriate fines. Existing legal provisions that insulate people from the financial consequences of not wearing a seat belt should be repealed. (Supersedes H-95-13.)