School Bus Investigations & Reports

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School Bus Fire
Oakland, IA | December 12, 2017
Summary: A school bus operated by the Riverside Community School District backed into a ditch on a rural road outside Oakland, Iowa,​​​​ after picking up its first passenger. While the driver tried to drive the bus out of the ditch, a fire began​ in the engine compartment and spread throughout the bus. We determined that the probable cause of the fatal school bus run-off-road and fire was (1) the driver’s failure to control the bus, backing it into a roadside ditch for reasons that could not be established; and (2) the failure of the Riverside Community School District to provide adequate oversight by allowing a driver to operate a school bus with a known physical impairment that limited his ability to perform emergency duties. The probable cause of the fire was ignition of a fuel source on the exterior of the engine’s turbocharger due to turbocharger overload and heat production, resulting from the blockage of the exhaust pipe by the bus’s position in the ditch and the driver’s attempts to accelerate out of the ditch. Contributing to the severity of the fire was the spread of flames, heat, and toxic gases from the engine into the passenger compartment through an incomplete firewall. ​​

Fatal Pedestrian Collision with Minivan
Thief River Falls, MN | October 6, 2016​
Summary: A school bus was southbound on State Highway 59 about 10 miles south of Thief River Falls, , Minnesota. ​​At the same time, a minimvan driver has heading north on the highway. As the school bus was coming to a stop and activating its flashing yellow lights, the 7-year-old started across the highway toward the bus and crossed in front of the minivan, which struck him. ​The collision occurred just before sunrise (civil twilight began at 7:01 a.m.), and skies were cloudy.  The cause of the crash was a combination of the pedestrian running across the highway travel lane in the path of the oncoming minivan; the minivan driver’s speed; and the low-light conditions, which would have limited the minivan driver’s ability to see the pedestrian. Further contributing to the crash was the bus driver’s failure to pick the students up at their designated stop.​​​

P​edestrian Safety | September 2019
Special Investigation Report 
​In May 2016, the NTSB hosted a forum about pedestrian safety. After the forum, the NTSB began investigating a series of 15 fatal crashes in which vehicles on public highways killed pedestrians. In 2016, during the project design phase, the set of 15 investigative cases represented the average number of pedestrian fatalities every day. By the time the project was complete, the average had increased to 16 a day. This special investigation report discusses the public forum and previous NTSB investigations related to pedestrian safety, including the 15 fatal pedestrian crashes, and makes recommendations to improve pedestrian safety. Special investigation reports combine the work of
a similar set of cases to address a particular safety issue. 

Houston, TX | September 9, 2015
Summary: A 47-passenger school bus, operated by the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and occupied by a 44-year-old driver and four HISD students aged 14 to 17, was traveling eastbound on South Loop East Freeway (I-610) in lane 3 of the four-lane limited access highway. About the same time, a Buick LeSabre passenger vehicle was traveling eastbound in lane 2 on I-610 at an estimated speed of 69 mph. The Buick struck the school bus near the bus's left front wheel. The school bus moved to the right, departed lane 3, traversed lane 4 and the right shoulder, and struck the bridge rail at an approximate 28 degree angle. The bus overrode the concrete portion of the bridge rail and breached the metal railing along the top of the concrete parapet, leaving an approximately 3 foot long opening in the metal rail, before falling approximately 21 feet onto Telephone Road. The bus came to rest on its left side facing westward on the east side of Telephone Road. The Buick came to rest on the right shoulder of I-610 beyond the overpass. ​​​​We determined that the probable cause of the crash was the Buick ​driver’s intrusion into a lane occupied by a Houston Independent School District school bus. Contributing to the severity of the crash was the failure of the bridge railing to redirect the school bus because the dynamics of the collision exceeded the design capabilities of the railing.​    

 Collision of Two School Buses with Subsequent Rollover​​​
Knoxville, TN l December 2, 2014
Accident Brief
Summary: A Thomas Built transit-style school bus was transporting 18 students and an adult teacher’s aide from Sunny View Primary School in Knoxville, Tennessee. The bus was traveling westbound. In the meantime, a 2000 Navistar International transit-style school bus, was traveling eastbound in the left lane of Asheville Highway transporting 22 students from Chilhowee Intermediate School. As bus #44 approached the signalized intersection with John Sevier Highway, traffic in front of the bus was stopped at the intersection. The driver of bus #44 swerved left to avoid the stopped traffic and crossed a 30-foot-wide painted median into the westbound lanes of Asheville Highway. The front of bus #44 collided with the left (driver) side of bus #57. Following the initial impact, bus #57 rotated counter-clockwise (about 90 degrees); the vehicle partially departed the roadway, slid onto the shoulder, and collided with a barricade made of five steel poles embedded in a concrete curb, before overturning onto its right side. Bus #57 came to rest on the right shoulder of Asheville Highway. Bus #44 came to rest facing north across the westbound lanes. ​We determined that the probable cause of the collision was the late reaction and subsequent loss of control by the driver of bus #44 when he swerved to avoid traffic stopped ahead of him due to distraction caused by his reading a text message on his cell phone while driving. Contributing to the severity of the injuries were the crash dynamics and interaction between school bus #44 and school bus #57, resulting in school bus #57 rotating counter-clockwise approximately 90 degrees and subsequently striking a barricade before overturning onto its side, causing the passengers to be displaced from their seating positions. ​

School Bus Roadway Departure
Anaheim, CA | April 24, 2014
Investigation Brief
Report Summary 
Summary: A Blue Bird 78-passenger All American school bus, operated by the Orange Unified School District in Anaheim, California, and occupied by a 24-year-old male driver and 11 students was returning children home from the El Rancho Charter Middle School. The bus was traveling northbound in the 6500 block of Nohl Ranch Canyon Road in Anaheim. The posted speed limit was 35 mph, but the bus was traveling at a video-estimated speed of 43 mph when it left the roadway.  We determined that the probable cause of the Anaheim, California, crash was the driver’s loss of consciousness, resulting in his loss of control of the school bus, which departed the roadway and collided with a light pole and trees. Reducing the severity of passenger injuries in the area of maximum intrusion was the proper use of the available lap/shoulder belts by the student passengers seated in this area.