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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-17-046
Synopsis: On October 23, 2016, about 5:16 a.m., a motorcoach ran into the rear of a stopped combination vehicle in the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 (I-10), outside Palm Springs, California. About 9 minutes before the crash, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) initiated a traffic break for both eastbound and westbound traffic on I-10 in support of utility work being performed west of the crash location. At that time, a combination vehicle was traveling westbound on I-10. It stopped when it reached the traffic queue that had formed as a result of the break. After a break that lasted about 7 minutes, the CHP released westbound traffic. The combination vehicle remained stopped and was stationary as westbound traffic resumed normal flow. About 2 minutes after the traffic break ended, a 47-passenger motorcoach was traveling on westbound I-10 in the lane in which the combination vehicle was stopped. The motorcoach, which was occupied by a driver and 42 passengers, struck the rear of the combination vehicle’s semitrailer. As a result of the crash, the bus driver and 12 passengers died, and the truck driver and 30 passengers were injured. The crash investigation focused on the following safety issues: traffic break policies, obstructive sleep apnea and diabetes in commercial vehicle drivers, oversight of commercial vehicle drivers and carriers, emergency egress, and collision avoidance systems. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) makes new safety recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Tri-State Collision LLC, American Trucking Associations, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and National Sheriffs’ Association. The NTSB reiterates recommendations to the FMCSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and commercial vehicle manufacturers. The NTSB reiterates and reclassifies one recommendation to the FMCSA.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: Advise state department of transportation officials about the circumstances of this crash; distribute to them exemplar state and American Traffic Safety Services Association guidance on the safe implementation of traffic breaks; and urge each state to adopt a policy for conducting traffic breaks that includes procedures similar to those used in other temporary traffic control operations, such as (1) providing drivers with advance notice of slowed or stopped traffic, and (2) monitoring the formation and dispersal of traffic queues. In addition, the implementation of the policy should be documented in every encroachment permit involving a traffic break in the state.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Palm Springs, CA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY17MH005
Accident Reports: Preliminary Report: HWY17MH005Motorcoach Collision With Combination Vehicle After Traffic Break on Interstate 10, Palm Springs, California
Report #: HAR-17-04
Accident Date: 10/23/2016
Issue Date: 11/21/2017
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 9/13/2018
Response: We are encouraged by your plans to publish a technical advisory containing the recommended guidance, including language urging all states to adopt a traffic break policy and to review traffic break operations when conducting work zone process reviews. Pending completion of these efforts and our review of the resulting advisory, Safety Recommendation H-17-46 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
Date: 4/6/2018
Response: -From Brandye L. Hendrickson, Acting Administrator: The FHWA plans to issue a technical advisory on traffic break operations to raise awareness of FHW A field offices and the States to the issues revealed in NTSB' s above-mentioned crash report. This technical advisory will include noteworthy practices, urge each State to have a policy (processes, procedures, and/or guidance) for conducting traffic breaks, and recommend they include a review of traffic break operations during the work zone process reviews.

From: NTSB
Date: 11/21/2017
Response: On October 31, 2017, the NTSB adopted its report Motorcoach Collision With Combination Vehicle After Traffic Break on Interstate 10, Palm Springs, California, October 23, 2016, NTSB/HAR-17/04. The details of this accident investigation and the resulting safety recommendations may be found in the attached report, which can also be accessed at Among the Safety Recommendations are three issued to the Federal Highway Administration, which can be found on page 51 of the report. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate a response within 90 days, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement these recommendations.