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Accident Report Detail

Airport Transport Bus - Automobile Collision, Dulles Airport Access Road

Executive Summary

‚ÄčOn June 9, 1970, at 4:40 p.m., a 1965 Mercury two-door hardtop sedan, operated by a man under the influence of alcohol, driving west (wrong way) in the inside (left) lane of the eastbound portion of the Dulles Airport Access Road, crashed head-on into the right front of an eastbound 41 passenger 1967 G.M.C. Model 4107 Greyhound Airport Service Bus, 584 feet east of the Virginia Route 7 overpass. Both vehicles were traveling at the speed limit, 65 m.p.h., prior to impact.

After striking the bus, the automobile was driven back 130 feet to the east, pivoted counterclockwise 180 degrees, and struck an eastbound 1969 Ford Econoline Van on the left front side. Just preceding contact, the van, in the outside (right) lane, took evasive action by braking and veering onto the paved, right shoulder of the road.

The bus driver, in the process of overtaking the slower moving van, observed the automobile approximately 1,200 feet to his front, coming towards him in a head-on configuration. The bus driver turned towards the median on his left and applied brakes.

With a closure rate of 130 m.p.h., or 190 feet per second, the bus was not able to complete its evasive maneuver before being struck by the wrong-way automobile.

After disengagement, the bus skidded eastward on the pavement, entered the median, and came to an upright, final position, 278 feet from the point of impact. No fire ensued. Damage to the bus was extensive in the right front corner area and the automobile was destroyed. The operator of the automobile was killed, 14 occupants of the bus and van were injured. One bus passenger died from his injuries 20 days after the accident.

The three accident-involved vehicles were equipped with lap-type seat belts for the driver. The bus driver and automobile driver, however, were unbelted. No passenger restraint system was installed within the bus.

Twelve ambulances, several police units, and two fire trucks responded within 20 minutes. Bus passengers were assisted in climbing out of the vehicle through an open windshield space located at the right front of the bus.

There were no mechanical or tire failures on the bus. There was no evidence of any mechanical or tire failures on either the automobile or van.

The bus driver and driver of the van were sober, awake, and reportedly in good physical condition. Toxicology performed on the automobile driver, during a postmortem examination, revealed a blood-alcohol content of .21 percent.

The weather was clear and dry. Traffic volume on the road was moderate.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was driver error in that an automobile was driven the wrong way on a dual highway by a driver under the influence of alcohol.

Accident Location: Dulles , VA    
Accident Date: 6/9/1970
Accident ID: 79947

Date Adopted: 12/31/1970
NTSB Number: HAR-71-02
NTIS Number: PB-198076

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