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Accident Report Detail

Tractor-Semitrailer/Station Wagon Runway, Collision, and Fire

Executive Summary

About 7:51 p.m. on June 21, 1985 a privately-owned, 70,000-pounnd tractor-semitrailer operating in interstate commerce under a trip-lease agreement with C. Maxwell Trucking Company, Inc., lost control while descending a steep 3,439-foot-grade on southbound State Route 59 in downtown Van Buren, Arkansas. The truck collided with the rear of and overrode a station wagon which was stopped at the bottom of the hill. The truck and the station wagon continued 84 feet forward, across an intersection, up a curb, and through a guardrail. They then traveled another 22 feet and struck two commercial buildings. A fire ensued and engulfed both vehicles and three buildings. Both occupants in the truck and the seven occupants in the station wagon were fatally injured.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the truckdriver to comply with regulatory signs and to properly use limited service brakes and transmission for speed control purposes, which permitted the tractor-semitrailer to accelerate to a high speed while descending the steep grade on State Route 59. Contributing to the accident were the improper adjustment of the vehicle’s service brakes due to inadequate vehicle maintenance; the truckdriver’s lack of experience, maturity, and training required for interstate truckdrivers; and the absence of an adequate surveillance and enforcement program for the trucking system.

Accident Location: Van Buren , AR    
Accident Date: 6/21/1985
Accident ID: DCA85MH009

Date Adopted: 8/8/1986
NTSB Number: HAR-86-03
NTIS Number: PB86-916203

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