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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-15-011
Synopsis: About 9:05 p.m. central daylight time on Friday, September 26, 2014, a 2013 Peterbilt truck-tractor in combination with a 2014 Great Dane semitrailer, operated by a 53-year-old male, was traveling north in the left lane of Interstate 35 (I-35) near Davis, in Murray County, Oklahoma. At the same time, a 2008 Champion Defender 32-passenger medium-size bus, operated by a 48-year-old male, was traveling south in the right lane of I-35, transporting 15 female members of the North Central Texas College softball team. Near mile marker 47, after negotiating a slight rightward curve, the combination vehicle departed the left lane and entered the 92 foot wide depressed earthen median at an angle of approximately 2 degrees. It continued through the median at an average angle of 2–9 degrees and traveled more than 1,100 feet as it traversed the median. The combination vehicle then entered the I-35 southbound lanes and collided with the left side of the medium-size bus, as the bus driver steered to the right in an attempt to avoid the collision. Following the impact, the medium-size bus rolled onto its right side, and the combination vehicle continued off the roadway and into a wooded area. As a result of the crash, four bus passengers died. The remaining passengers received minor-to-serious injuries and were transported to area hospitals for treatment. The combination vehicle driver and the bus driver sustained minor injuries.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Determine whether the design of side-slide seats leads to seat belt entrapment that could result in reduced load capacity due to trapped belts or damage to belt webbing; if appropriate, open a defect investigation to address this issue.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Davis, OK, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: HWY14MH014
Accident Reports: ​Preliminary Report Highway HWY14MH014 Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision With Medium-Size Bus on Interstate 35, Davis, Oklahoma, September 26, 2014
Report #: HAR-15-03
Accident Date: 9/26/2014
Issue Date: 7/20/2015
Date Closed: 11/13/2017
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: NHTSA (Closed - Acceptable Action)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
Date: 11/13/2017
Response: Although we are disappointed that you intend to take no further action regarding the recommended systems, we recognize that you completed the recommended evaluation and that your research did not sufficiently support you opening open a defect investigation of seat-belt entrapment on side-slide seats. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation H-15-11 is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

Date: 7/11/2017
Response: -From Jack Danielson, Acting Deputy Administrator: NHTSA defect investigative staff carefully reviewed the images and information provided in your letter. The webbing pictured is not trapped because of seat-side sliding, but wrapped behind the slide rail on the seat frame fixture. Given the significant amount of effort needed to position the seat belt webbing this way, it seems likely that it was done by passengers attempting to stow unused webbing. For example, under no known circumstances could the sliding mechanism result in the seat belt positioning pictured in Figure 1 of your letter. Belt webbing damage/fraying in this instance was most likely caused by the intentional misuse of the belt. Regarding opening a defects investigation, we look carefully at the body of consumer complaints and other available data to detem1ine whether a defect trend may exist and how severe that defect may be to safety. For this vehicle, NHTSA did not find any significant information. When our investigations indicate that vehicles or vehicle equipment contain safety defects in their design, construction, or performance, NHTSA has the authority to order manufacturers to recall and repair them. We do not find it appropriate in this case. For these reasons, NHTSA requests that Safety Recommendation H-15-11 be "Closed -Acceptable Action."