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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-003
Synopsis: On October 22, 2009, about 10:38 a.m. eastern daylight time, a 2006 Navistar International truck-tractor in combination with a 1994 Mississippi Tank Company MC331 specification cargo tank semitrailer (the combination unit), operated by AmeriGas Propane, L.P., and laden with 9,001 gallons of liquefied petroleum gas, rolled over on a connection ramp after exiting Interstate 69 (I-69) southbound to proceed south on Interstate 465 (I-465), about 10 miles northeast of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The truck driver was negotiating a left curve in the right lane on the connection ramp, which consisted of two southbound lanes, when the combination unit began to encroach upon the left lane, occupied by a 2007 Volvo S40 passenger car. The truck driver responded to the Volvo’s presence in the left lane by oversteering clockwise, causing the combination unit to veer to the right and travel onto the paved right shoulder. Moments later, the truck driver steered counterclockwise to redirect and return the combination unit from the right shoulder to the right lane. The truck driver’s excessive, rapid, evasive steering maneuver triggered a sequence of events that caused the cargo tank semitrailer to roll over, decouple from the truck-tractor, penetrate a steel W-beam guardrail, and collide with a bridge footing and concrete pier column supporting the southbound I-465 overpass. The collision entirely displaced the outside bridge pier column from its footing and resulted in a breach at the front of the cargo tank that allowed the liquefied petroleum gas to escape, form a vapor cloud, and ignite. The truck-tractor came to rest on its right side south of the I-465 overpasses, and the decoupled cargo tank semitrailer came to rest on its left side, near the bridge footing supporting the southbound I-465 overpass. The truck driver and the Volvo driver sustained serious injuries in the accident and postaccident fire, and three occupants of passenger vehicles traveling on I-465 received minor injuries from the postaccident fire.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Require all in-use cargo tank trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds to be retrofitted with a rollover stability control system.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed--No Longer Applicable
Mode: Highway
Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY10MH001
Accident Reports:
Rollover of a Truck-Tractor and Cargo Tank Semitrailer Carrying Liquified Petroleum Gas and Subsequent Fire
Report #: HAR-11-01
Accident Date: 10/22/2009
Issue Date: 9/2/2011
Date Closed: 9/15/2015
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FMCSA (Closed--No Longer Applicable)
Keyword(s): Hazmat

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 9/15/2015
Response: We are aware that on June 23, 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a final rule creating Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 136 to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on truck tractors and certain buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds). During the rulemaking process, NHTSA found that retrofits were neither effective at reducing risk nor cost-effective and, consequently, the agency did not include any retrofit requirements in its final rule. We are disappointed that you also proved unable to develop a cost-benefit analysis to support a retrofit mandate; however, we understand that your agency would face the same challenge. Without the requisite cost justification required for its implementation, Safety Recommendation H-11-3 is classified CLOSED—NO LONGER APPLICABLE. We encourage you to support early adoption of the new ESC requirement, especially in your discussions with cargo tank carriers, to promote the maximum safety benefit from this important technology.

From: NTSB
Date: 9/13/2012
Response: The outgoing letter for correspondence control # 201200029 does not address H-11-003. It only addresses H-11-002.

From: NTSB
Date: 8/9/2012
Response: Notation 8429: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 136, Electronic Stability Control Systems for Heavy Vehicles, as published in Volume 77 of the Federal Register on May 23, 2012. The proposed rule would require truck tractors and certain buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with an electronic stability control (ESC) system meeting specified equipment and performance criteria. The NTSB has long advocated the study and implementation of crash avoidance technologies, such as ESC, to assist drivers in maintaining control of commercial motor vehicles. As a result of our investigation of a multivehicle collision in Slinger, Wisconsin, in February 1997, the NTSB recommended that NHTSA conduct research to evaluate the benefits of adding traction control devices to antilock brake systems (H-98-9). Based on NHTSA research for the current rulemaking effort, the NTSB classified this recommendation "Closed-Acceptable Action" in January 2012. In the investigation of a seven-fatal mid-size bus rollover accident in Dolan Springs, Arizona, in January 2009, the NTSB addressed the benefits of equipping buses with a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds with stability control systems and issued Safety Recommendations H -10-5 and -6 to NHTSA: Develop stability control .system performance standard) applicahle to newly manufactured buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10, 000 pounds. (H-10-5) Once the performance standards from Safety Recommendation H-10-5 have been developed, require the installation of stability control systems in all newly manufactured buses in which this technology could have a safety benefit. (H-10-6) Upon completion of another commercial vehicle rollover accident investigation-in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October 2009, involving the rollover of a cargo tank trailer carrying liquefied petroleum gas and a subsequent fire3-the NTSB closed Safety Recommendations H-10-5 and -6 and issued superseding and broader Safety Recommendations H-11-7 and -8 to NHTSA: Develop stability control system performance standards for all commercial motor vehicles and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10, 000 pounds, regardless of whether the vehicles are equipped with a hydraulic or a pneumatic brake system. (H-11-7) Once the performance standards from Safety Recommendation H-II-7 have been developed, require the installation of stability control systems on all newly manufactured commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10, 000 pounds. (H-11-8) In the Indianapolis investigation, the NTSB also concluded that a retrofit for stability control systems would be advantageous given the long service life of cargo tank trailers and the potential safety risks posed by the hazardous materials they typically transport. And, because roll stability control (RSC) systems do not require the same integrated sensors and communication systems as ESC, making them more feasible to install as a retrofit, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-11-3 to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Require all in-use cargo tank trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10, 000 pounds to be retrofitted with a rollover stability control system. (H-1l-3) The proposed rule has assessed the benefits of ESC versus RSC systems, acknowledging that RSC systems lack the ability to affect the directional control of a vehicle in situations of potential rollover. The NTSB agrees with NHTSA that there are additional benefits of ESC over RSC and applauds the research and testing that NHTSA conducted to come to this conclusion. Although NHTSA found that RSC on trailers would save fewer than 10 lives per year and would not be cost beneficial, the NTSB stands by Safety Recommendation H-1l-3 for cargo tank trailers to be retrofitted with RSC systems due to the high potential they hold for catastrophic damage and loss of life in the event of a hazardous materials release. The NTSB recognizes that FMVSS No.l26 requires ESC systems to be in place on light vehicles, and the proposed rulemaking extends the requirement for ESC systems to a large number of heavy vehicles. However, between the upper bounds of FMVSS No. 126, a GVWR of 10,000 pounds, and the lower bounds of the proposed FMVSS No.136, a GVWR of 26,000 pounds, there is a gap where stability control systems will not be required. A vehicle type within this gap that is of particular interest to the NTSB is mid-size buses. The Dolan Springs bus, a mid-size bus with a GVWR of 19,500 pounds, would not be covered in the proposed ESC rulemaking. During its Dolan Springs investigation, the NTSB estimated that the production volume of mid-size buses was 11,600 units per year, on average. Mid-size buses, which are used to transport groups of 16-40 people, should be held to the same--if not higher standards than vehicles used to transport cargo. Mid-size buses also have higher centers of gravity than many other passenger-carrying vehicles, making them more prone to rollover, and therefore more likely to benefit from rollover prevention technologies. The proposed rule also does not address ESC systems for other types of buses, and instead proposes exemptions for buses with fewer than 16 seating positions, buses with limited forward-facing seating configurations (such as limo-buses), urban transit buses, and school buses. We understand that certain exemptions to the rule may be required for slow-moving or specialty vehicles, but when it comes to vehicles that transport people, especially children, the NTSB encourages NHTSA to be as far-reaching as possible when implementing life-saving safety technologies such as ESC. The proposed rule also excludes medium-duty and single-unit trucks, which could benefit from stability control systems. As pointed out in the proposed rulemaking, a safety benefit study applicable to such commercial vehicles is underway, and ESC systems are still in development for medium-duty trucks and buses equipped with hydraulic brakes. The NTSB is pleased to see that steps are underway to equip the largest populations within the commercial vehicle fleet with stability control systems without waiting for their availability on all types of vehicles, but we will continue to advocate that this safety technology be universal. As recognized in the proposed rule, the NTSB has also issued safety recommendations on collision warning with active braking and adaptive cruise control systems, for which ESC systems are required as a baseline technology to enable vehicle braking without driver input. In 2001, the NTSB published a Special Investigation Report of nine rear-end accidents in which 20 people died and 181 were injured,5 and issued Safety Recommendations H-01-6 and -7 to NHTSA: Complete rule making on adaptive cruise control and collision warning system performance standards for new commercial vehicles. At a minimum, these standards should address obstacle detection distance, timing of alerts, and human factors guidelines, such as the mode and type of warning. (H-01-6) After promulgating performance standards for collision warning systems for commercial vehicles, require that all new commercial vehicles be equipped with a collision warning system. (H-Ol-7) At the conclusion of the investigation of an October 2005 accident near Osseo, Wisconsin-involving the rollover of a truck-tractor semitrailer combination unit, which was subsequently struck by a motorcoach-in which 5 people died and 36 were injured,6 the NTSB reiterated Safety Recommendations H-0l-6 and -7 and issued Safety Recommendation H-08-15 to NHTSA: Determine whether equipping commercial vehicles with collision warning systems with active braking and electronic stability control systems will reduce commercial vehicle accidents. If these technologies are determined to be effective in reducing accidents, require their use on commercial vehicles. (H-08-15) We believe that the advancement of crash avoidance and mitigation technologies is dependent on equipping the entire commercial vehicle population with ESC. The NTSB understands that ESC alone cannot prevent all accidents and that conditions such as aggressive steering inputs, excessive speed, and shifting loads limit its effectiveness. For this reason, we encourage NHSTA to not only continue moving forward on accident prevention technologies, but also to develop rollover performance standards to ensure that the static rollover stability of commercial vehicles is considered and optimized in the design and manufacturing stages. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this notice. Although we are encouraged by the proposed rulemaking and its effect on a large population of commercial motor vehicles, our open safety recommendations to NHTSA with regard to stability control systems include all commercial motor vehicles and buses with a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds. Well-designed technology can improve driver performance and overall highway safety, and we will continue to support the development and requirement of such systems until a universal level of safety is realized.

Date: 1/3/2012
Response: -From Anne S. Ferro, Administrator: The FMCSA acknowledges the NTSB's concerns to make tanker trailers less prone to rollovers. The Agency believes however, that it would be inappropriate to initiate a rulemaking to "require all in use cargo tank trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds to be retrofitted with a rollover stability control system" prior to the completion of a rulemaking to mandate such systems on newly manufactured trailers. The Department must consider the estimated costs and safety benefits of a rulemaking concerning retrofitting of rollover stability control systems. Retrofitting would take place outside of the original equipment manufacturers' (OEM) facilities, involve an unknown population of trailers, and be performed by individuals and facilities that are not necessarily affiliated with the OEM responsible for the construction of the trailer. The data and information used in the regulatory analyses for a rulemaking concerning new trailers may not be suitable for use in the assessment of the costs and safety benefits of a retrofitting rulemaking. The Department does not currently have information on the number of cargo tank trailers and the remaining useful service life of those trailers. This information is necessary to complete an appropriate regulatory analysis of the potential costs of a retrofitting rulemaking. Also, the Agency does not have information on the availability of personnel trained and experienced in retrofitting rollover stability control systems on trailers. In addition, the Department does not have information on the availability of rollover stability control units for retrofit applications. While the manufacturers of such systems may be prepared to meet certain market demands for installing these systems on new trailers during a phase-in period, there is no information to enable the Department to ensure an adequate supply of units and personnel to handle the volume of work associated with a retrofitting requirement. Finally, FMCSA would not have the authority to initiate a rulemaking to require retrofitting of rollover stability control systems if there is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rulemaking to establish such requirements for newly manufactured trailers. Under 49 CFR 1.73(g), the Secretary of Transportation has delegated to the FMCSA Administrator, the authority to carry out the functions vested in the Secretary by subchapters I, III, and IV of chapter 311, title 49, U.S.C., relating to commercial motor vehicle programs, safety regulation, and international activities, except that the authority to promulgate safety standards for commercial motor vehicles and equipment subsequent to initial manufacture is limited to standards that are not based upon and similar to a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMYSS) promulgated under chapter 301 of title 49, U.S.C. This means that if NHTSA is in the process of establishing an FMYSS applicable to safety equipment or safety feature, or has established such an FMYSS, FMCSA is precluded from independently pursuing a retrofitting rulemaking. In this case, NHTSA has drafted an NPRM on truck tractor stability control that addresses both rollover and loss of control crashes. The Agency believes the issue of retrofitting should not be pursued until such time that requirements have been established for new trailers, and because FMCSA does not have authority to pursue this matter if it is the subject of an FMYSS or a rulemaking process to establish requirements under the FMYSS. It is impractical and contrary to the current departmental delegation of authority for FMCSA to act upon this recommendation. Based on the reasons cited above in safety recommendation H-II-03, FMCSA respectfully requests that NTSB withdraw this recommendation and classify the safety recommendation as "Closed Acceptable Action." We continue to share the NTSB's goal of improving motor carrier safety in order to make our roads and highways safer for everyone and believe the actions described above are responsive to safety recommendations H-11-02 and H-11-03.