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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-034
Synopsis: On Friday, March 26, 2010, about 5:14 a.m. central daylight time, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a 1999 Freightliner truck-tractor in combination with a 1998 Strick Corporation 53-foot-long van semitrailer, owned by the motor carrier Hester, Inc., and being driven by a 45-year-old male, was traveling south on Interstate 65 (I-65) near milepost 61.5. The truck departed the left lane of southbound I-65 at a shallow angle and entered the 60-foot-wide depressed earthen median between the southbound and northbound roadways. The truck traveled across the median and struck and overrode the high-tension, four-cable, alternating-post median barrier adjacent to the left shoulder of northbound I-65. It then crossed the left shoulder and entered the travel lanes of northbound I-65. At that time, a 2000 Dodge 15-passenger van, driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied by 11 passengers, was traveling northbound in the left lane. As the truck crossed in front of the van, its tractor was struck by the van. The van rotated clockwise and became engaged with the truck’s trailer; the two vehicles continued across both travel lanes and the right shoulder of northbound I-65. As the truck and van traveled across the right shoulder, the van separated from the truck, struck the cut rock wall beyond the shoulder, and rebounded back into the travel lanes, coming to rest in the left lane of northbound I-65, facing south. The truck’s tractor struck the cut rock wall, and the vehicle rolled onto its right side. As the truck came to rest across both northbound lanes, a fire ensued that destroyed the tractor and the sides and roof of the semitrailer. As a result of the accident and subsequent truck fire, the truck driver, the van driver, and nine van passengers died. Two child passengers in the van, who were using child restraints, sustained minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of this accident was the truck driver’s failure to maintain control of the truck-tractor combination vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cellular telephone. Contributing to the severity of the accident were a median barrier that was not designed to safely contain or redirect the heavy vehicle and the lack of adequate guidance to the states in the form of high-performance median barrier warrants. One issue that the NTSB identified during its investigation was the need to provide objective warrants, rather than general guidelines, for the application of median barriers. This issue area has elements that concern the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Recommendation: TO THE GOVERNORS HIGHWAY SAFETY ASSOCIATION: Work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to add a standard definition for “cross-median crash” and a data element for cross-median crash accidents to the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Munfordville, KY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY10MH011
Accident Reports: Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision With 15-Passenger Van
Report #: HAR-11-02
Accident Date: 3/26/2010
Issue Date: 10/4/2011
Date Closed: 9/4/2012
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Governors Highway Safety Association (Closed - Acceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Governors Highway Safety Association
Date: 9/4/2012
Response: The NTSB is aware that the MMUCC expert panel added a “cross median” element to the third edition of the MMUCC when it was updated in 2008 and that, in 2010, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Automotive Sampling System General Estimates System (NASS GES) were revised to comply with the MMUCC. We further note that the fourth edition of the MMUCC, published in late June 2012, includes a definition of the cross median element attribute consistent with the definition specified in FARS. The NTSB appreciates the MMUCC expert panel’s initiative to improve crash data collection and to provide consistent guidance for states to use on their crash report forms. Action to satisfy Safety Recommendation H-11-34 is complete; accordingly, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: Governors Highway Safety Association
Date: 11/1/2011
Response: -From Barbara L. Harsha, Executive Director: Thank you for your recent letter about the Munfordville, KY accident that occurred on March 26, 2010. GHSA's responses are listed below. Cross-Median Crash Data Element NTSB recommended that GHSA work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on a standard definition of cross-median crashes and a data element for such crashes. A cross-median attribute was added to the 3rd Edition of the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) in 2008. Specifically, it appears in the (very important) vehicle data element V.20 Sequence of Events. This will be unchanged in the 4th Edition to be published early next year. In addition, the definition of cross-median crashes that appears on page 403 of the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Coding and Validation Manual will be added to the 4th edition of MMUCC. State Seat Belt Laws Covering 15-Passenger Vans NTSB recommended that GHSA inform its members about the circumstances of the March 26, 2010 crash and urge them to check if their seat belt laws cover occupants in 15-passenger vans. GHSA has accomplished this in two ways. First, the Association sent an email to the membership describing the circumstances of the crash and recommending that State Highway Safety Offices review their adult and child restraint statutes to ensure that 15-passenger vans are covered in the definition of motor vehicles. Secondly, GHSA wrote a brief article for its Directions newsletter summarizing the crash circumstances and the recommendations to GHSA and its members. (See attachment.) GHSA appreciates the opportunity to work with NTSB on important highway safety issues such as the ones presented by the March 26, 2010 Munfordville, KY crash.