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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-17-049
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 MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Make the 2016 Medical Review Board/Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee recommendations on screening for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) easily accessible to certified medical examiners, and instruct the examiners to use the recommendations as guidance when evaluating commercial drivers for OSA risk.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open Acceptable Alternate 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: FMCSA (Open Acceptable Alternate Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 6/3/2019
Response: We are disappointed by your lack of progress on these three recommendations addressing OSA, which you say is due to restrictions placed on your agency by Public Law 113-45. To better understand your limitations, our Office of General Counsel is reviewing the law and its implications for our recommendations. Until that review is complete and we determine next steps, the status of these recommendations will not change; therefore, Safety Recommendation H-09-15 remains classified “Open—Unacceptable Response;” Safety Recommendation H-09-16 remains classified “Open—Acceptable Response;” and Safety Recommendation H-17-49 remains classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE RESPONSE.

Date: 1/18/2019
Response: -From Michael Jordan, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: On August 8, 2018, and December 4, 2018, representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met to discuss the status of 13 safety recommendations. This memorandum communicates the status updates discussed at those meetings. Source: Highway Accident Report (NTSB/HAR-17/04); Palm Springs, California (2016-10-23) Current Classification: Open - Acceptable Alternate Response Requested Classification: Open - Acceptable Alternate Response Status Update: • Please see the written update for safety recommendation H-09-015. • FMCSA is reviewing how information concerning OSA is presented online and is taking steps to make it easier for CMEs to identify the related MRB/MCSAC recommendations. • FMCSA requests NTSB maintain its classification for safety recommendation H-17-049 as Open - Acceptable Alternate Response.

From: NTSB
Date: 7/2/2018
Response: Our intent in issuing this recommendation was to ensure that the MRB/MCSAC recommendations on OSA screening would be easily accessible to and used by medical examiners to improve their ability to identify and effectively treat drivers at high risk for OSA. We note that you plan to update your OSA bulletin, which is used to conduct recurring medical examiner training; however, it is not clear whether you plan to use the recommended guidance. We encourage you to include the MRB/MCSAC recommendations, or comparable language, in your updated materials, to use them for future training, and to place them prominently in the medical examiner portion of your website. Such action could constitute an acceptable alternate approach to implementing Safety Recommendation H-17-49, which is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE RESPONSE.

Date: 3/8/2018
Response: -From Cathy F. Gautreaux, Deputy Administrator: The FMCSA continues to review and revise its medical program to ensure that medical examiners (ME) on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (National Registry) know how a diagnosis of moderate to severe OSA relates to the physical qualification standards for interstate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. The Agency will update its bulletin on OSA as part of the training that MEs on the National Registry must complete every five years. This training differs from the initial training provided by third parties that must be taken before joining the National Registry and will be offered by the Agency directly. Additionally, FMCSA will post supplemental information regarding OSA on the FMCSA and National Registry websites. In January 2015, FMCSA issued information to all certified MEs and ME training organizations involved with the National Registry that explained how the Agency's requirements apply to drivers who may have moderate to severe OSA. In 2018 FM CSA plans to issue a revised bulletin to emphasize the importance of screening drivers for OSA and to recommend the use of findings of moderate to severe OSA to determine whether a driver is qualified physically to operate a CMV in interstate commerce. The FMCSA requests the NTSB classify safety recommendation H-17-049 as "Open- Acceptable Response."

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 two new recommendations issued to the Federal Highway Administration, which can be found on page 51 of the report; two reiterated recommendations, which can be found on page 53 of the report; and one reiterated and reclassified recommendation, which can be found on page 54 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.