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Accident Report Detail

Continental Trailways, Inc., Scheduled Intercity Bus/Multiple-Vehicle Collision and Fire Interstate Route 95

Executive Summary

‚ÄčAbout 5:55 p.m. on April 20, 1981, a scheduled intercity bus with 34 passengers on board was southbound on Interstate Route 95 (I-95) en route to Washington, D.C., via Silver Spring, Maryland. As the bus approached the Interstate Route 495 (Capital Beltway) interchange, the traffic ahead in the right lane slowed and came to a stop. The bus failed to stop, crashed into the rear of the automobile ahead of it, and precipitated a four-car, front-to-rear-end collision. Two of the automobiles burst into flames which quickly spread to and engulfed the bus after it had been evacuated. Three occupants of the automobile struck by the bus were killed. The drivers of the other three automobiles, the busdriver, and the 34 bus passengers received minor injuries.

Probable Cause

‚ÄčThe National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the busdriver to maintain a safe stopping distance between the bus and the automobile ahead as traffic ahead slowed and came to a stop during the peak traffic period. Contributing to the cause and severity of the fires was the separation of the filler pipes from the fuel tanks of two of the automobiles.

Accident Location: Beltsville , MD    
Accident Date: 4/20/1981
Accident ID: DCA81AH006

Date Adopted: 9/15/1981
NTSB Number: HAR-81-05
NTIS Number: PB82-117524

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