Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-10-004
Details
Synopsis: On Friday, January 30, 2009, about 4:06 p.m. mountain standard time, a 2007 Chevrolet/Starcraft 29-passenger medium-size bus, operated by DW Tour and Charter and occupied by the driver and 16 passengers, was traveling northbound in the right lane of U.S. Highway 93, a four-lane divided highway, near Dolan Springs, in Mohave County, Arizona. The bus was on a return trip from Grand Canyon West to Las Vegas, Nevada, after a day-long tour. As the bus approached milepost 28 at a speed of 70 mph,2 it moved to the left and out of its lane of travel. The driver steered sharply back to the right, crossing both northbound lanes and entering the right shoulder. The driver subsequently overcorrected to the left, causing the bus to yaw and cross both northbound lanes. The bus then entered the depressed earthen median and overturned 1.25 times before coming to rest on its right side across both southbound lanes. During the rollover sequence, 15 of the 17 occupants (including the driver) were fully or partially ejected. Seven passengers were killed, and nine passengers and the driver received injuries ranging from minor to serious. At the time of the accident, skies were clear, the temperature was 61° F, and the wind was blowing from the north–northeast at 8 mph.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Develop performance standards for all newly manufactured buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds to require that overhead luggage racks are constructed and installed to prevent head and neck injuries and remain anchored during an accident sequence. (This recommendation supersedes Safety Recommendations H-09-23 and -24.)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Dolan Springs, AZ, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY09MH009
Accident Reports: Bus Loss of Control and Rollover
Report #: HAR-10-01
Accident Date: 1/30/2009
Issue Date: 7/8/2010
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: NHTSA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 11/13/2017
Response: We are pleased to note that you published the recommended overhead luggage rack performance standards in your motorcoach rollover structural integrity NPRM. Pending publication of the final rule requiring that luggage rack construction and installation meet the new standards, Safety Recommendation H-10-4 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 12/30/2015
Response:

From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/13/2015
Response: -From Mark R. Rosekind, Administrator: NHTSA completed its development of performance standards for overhead luggage rack attachments. NHTSA proposed these performance standards in the August 16, 2014 NPRM to require motorcoach rollover structural integrity (79 FR 4090). While the NPRM proposes applicability to all over-the-road buses (regardless of gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)) and other large buses, the development of performance standards is complete, and can be an assessment tool for mid-sized (non-over-the-road buses), if warranted. We are currently engaged in rulemaking to finalize and implement these standards and are cognizant of Safety Recommendation H-10-03, which recommends: "In your rulemaking to improve motorcoach roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards, include all buses with a gross vehicle weight rating $.bove 10,000 pounds, other than school buses." In the interim, we request that our efforts to develop performance standards under Safety Recommendation H-10-4 be classified as "Closed-Acceptable Action."

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 10/2/2014
Response: Correspondence Control # 201400941: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Bus Rollover Structural Integrity, Motorcoach Safety Plan; Proposed Rule,” which was published at 79 Federal Register 46090 on August 6, 2014. The proposed rule is intended to enhance the rollover structural integrity of certain types of large buses—generally, over-the-road buses of any weight (commonly referred to as motorcoaches)—and non-over-the-road buses with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms (kg), and proposes a definition for over-the-road buses. Dolan Springs, Arizona The NTSB investigated the January 30, 2009, crash in Dolan Springs, Arizona, which involved a 29-passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of 19,500 pounds and an overall length of 32 feet. The bus’s interior configuration had seven rows of forward-facing motorcoach style seats behind the driver. Overhead luggage racks were located above the seats, and storage space for luggage was provided in the rear of the bus. In this crash, the bus overturned 1.25 times after it left the roadway, coming to rest on its right side. During the rollover, 15 of the 17 occupants, including the driver, were ejected. Seven passengers were killed, and nine passengers and the driver were injured. This crash provided a prime example of why medium size buses need occupant protection as much as larger buses do. As a result of the Dolan Springs investigation, we issued Safety Recommendations H-10-3 and -4, asking NHTSA to take the following actions: H-10-3 In your rulemaking to improve motorcoach roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards, include all buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds, other than school buses. H-10-4 Develop performance standards for all newly manufactured buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds to require that overhead luggage racks are constructed and installed to prevent head and neck injuries and remain anchored during an accident sequence. We classified Safety Recommendations H-10-3 and -4 OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE because the 2013 final rule on occupant crash protection excepted buses with GVWRs between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds. In addition, medium-size buses are built and designed similarly to one another and may only vary by a few hundred pounds, creating a large disparity in the proposed rollover structural integrity requirements, which would include any non-over-the-road bus as long as it weighs over 26,000 pounds. For example, on September 29, 2010, a crash occurred near Bethesda, Maryland, involving a 2006 Freightliner/General Coach America 29-passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds and an interior configuration with eight rows of forward-facing motorcoach-style seats behind the driver. Eleven passengers (including one child who was ejected from the bus) sustained injuries when the bus rolled 360 degrees down a steep bridge embankment. According to the NPRM, the Bethesda bus would be considered a non-over-the-road bus and, due to its weight (26,000 pounds), it would be subject to the proposed safety requirements; however, we note that even though it was over the 26,000-pound weight threshold, the medium size bus in the Bethesda crash was built the same (chassis-on-body design) and had the same 29-passenger seating capacity as the bus in the Dolan Springs accident. However, because of the weight threshold in the NPRM, these two buses would have significantly different levels of occupant protection. Roof crush performance standards are essential to protecting occupants of all types of passenger buses. We believe occupant protection should be afforded to every passenger on buses weighing over 10,000 pounds. During the Dolan Springs crash investigation, we found that the use of medium size buses is increasing because of their low retail cost compared to motorcoaches, relatively large passenger capacity, and resulting ability to generate high revenues. Compared to over-the-road buses, medium-size buses have a similar interior configuration, only slightly less passenger capacity, and a significantly lower purchase price. We agree with NHTSA’s belief, as stated in the NPRM, that these buses will pose still greater risks in the future when more medium size buses are in operation, increasing their exposure to rollovers and other crash events. We believe that crashes such as those cited above, and the fatalities and serious injuries that result from them, demonstrate that medium-size buses should not be excepted from the occupant protection standards for rollover structural integrity, seat anchorages, and overhead luggage racks proposed in the NPRM.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 2/10/2014
Response: Although we are encouraged by your efforts to initiate rulemaking to address the structural integrity of motorcoaches, we are concerned that the rulemaking will focus only on large buses. Accordingly, pending evidence of significant action, such as actual rulemaking, that applies to all newly manufactured buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds, Safety Recommendation H-10-4 remains classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 6/7/2011
Response: The NTSB understands that NHTSA is working on rulemaking that would address motorcoach structural integrity related to roof crush strength, occupant protection, window glazing, and overhead luggage racks for buses with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds and over. We remain concerned, however, by the lack of attention to buses in the 10,000-to 26,000-pound GVWR range. The Dolan Springs accident investigation found the use of these buses increasing due to their ability to generate high revenues, their low retail costs compared to motorcoaches, and their passenger capacity, which can be close to that of a full-sized n10torcoach. Until the structural integrity of all newly manufactured buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds is addressed to ensure survivable space for bus passengers, Safety Recomn1endations H-10-3 and -4 are classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/7/2010
Response: MC# 201000405 - From David L. Strickland, Administrator: The safety of buses, motorcoaches, and other high occupancy commercial vehicles is a critical component to fulfilling our mission to prevent deaths and injuries on the nation's roadways. Because these vehicles serve as public transportation systems, there is an expectation that the highest levels of safety stringency be applied, especially since these vehicles often transport our most vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly. NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Rulemaking and Research Priority Plan 2009-2011 (Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0108) delineates our near-term actions in addressing these populations and vehicle types, and references related NTSB recommendations where appropriate. We are currently in the final process of publishing an update to that Plan for the time period 2010-2013. On August 18 we published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to address issues related to high occupancy vehicle Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), motorcoach definition, and occupant crash protection (see 75 FR 50958, Docket No. NHTSA 2010-0112). The comment period for this NPRM closes on October 18. We highly encourage NTSB to submit comments on this proposed rule so we can incorporate these in our deliberations toward developing a final rule. Additional public documents that detail our vision, plans, and approach to high occupancy vehicle safety include our 2007 "NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety" (Docket No. NHTSA-2007-28793) and the DOT's 2009 Motorcoach Safety Action Plan (HS 811 177). Recommendations H-10-03 and -04 address motorcoach structural integrity related to roof crush strength, occupant protection, window glazing and overhead luggage racks, and propose to apply related standards to buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds. Our current activities include consideration of performance standards to require maintenance of occupant survival space, emergency exits to remain closed, seats and luggage racks to remain anchored and far-side glazing to remain in place. The 2009-2011 Priority Plan indicated our intent to make a decision on whether to proceed with rulemaking in 2009. That milestone was met and the decision made to proceed with rulemaking. The 2010-2013 Priority Plan update will provide insight into our planned rulemaking timeframe, and the public comments received in response to the currently pending NPRM will inform the agency's decision as to what definition of motorcoach such rulemaking would apply.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 7/8/2010
Response: From the July 8, 2010 Safety Recommendation Letter issuing recommendations as a result of the January 30, 2009 rollover accident of a medium-size bus near Dolan Springs, Arizona: As is the case with motorcoaches, there are currently no performance standards for overhead luggage racks on medium-size buses. It is evident from both the Sherman and Dolan Springs accidents that the strength of luggage rack anchors should be considered as part of any systematic evaluation of bus occupant safety. Although it is not specifically known when the luggage racks on the accident bus failed, it is important to note that they failed despite minimal deformation to the roof structure. It is clear from the way the luggage racks were mounted above the seatbacks that—had the occupants been restrained in their seats—the failure of the racks might have resulted in head injuries and hampered egress from the vehicle. The NTSB concludes that the detachment of overhead luggage racks presents a potential injury source for both restrained and unrestrained bus passengers. Because of this potential hazard, the NTSB recommends that NHTSA develop performance standards for all newly manufactured buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds to require that overhead luggage racks are constructed and installed to prevent head and neck injuries and remain anchored during an accident sequence. This recommendation replaces Safety Recommendations H-09-23 and -24, both of which the NTSB classifies “Closed—Superseded.” Safety Recommendation H-10-4 supersedes Safety Recommendations H-09-23 and H-09-24.