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Speeches

Closing Statement: Board Meeting: Truck-Tractor Double Trailer Median Crossover Collision With Motorcoach and Postcrash Fire on Interstate 5, Orland, California
Christopher A. Hart
NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center, Washington, DC
7/14/2015

​Closing Statement

In closing, I would like to recognize the hard work of the NTSB staff in producing this report, and thank my fellow Board Members for their very thoughtful participation in the process.

We cannot undo the terrible toll of the crash that we discussed today. We can, however, repeat our urgent message to regulators to take appropriate action to give motorcoach passengers a better chance of walking away from any such crash in the future.

Today’s recommendations to NHTSA and to FMCSA, if acted upon, will give motorcoach passengers a level of safety protection comparable to that available to passengers traveling by rail and air.

We have asked NHTSA to upgrade testing protocols for flammability and smoke emission characteristics for interiors to match passenger rail and aviation standards. We have asked that new motorcoaches and buses be required to include a second door for use as an emergency exit.

We have asked the FMCSA to require safety briefings and printed evacuation instructions for passengers.

We urge both regulators to act on today’s new recommendations – but it is troubling that in this report, the NTSB has also had to reiterate several recommendations to NHTSA.

We reiterated that emergency exits should be easy to open and should remain open; that motorcoaches should have emergency lighting fixtures with an independent power source; and that motorcoach emergency exits should be marked with luminescent and/or exterior retroreflective material.

By law, the NTSB can only recommend that NHTSA require these safety improvements. Now it is up to NHTSA to require them.

Finally, we have reiterated the need for NHTSA to develop standards for, and mandate the installation of, event data recorders on both motorcoaches and trucks.

We know from our experience in aviation and rail that such safety recommendations can and do save lives.  It is a further tragedy of this accident that these recommendations have never been acted upon. 

While we have highlighted important lessons about crash survivability, we are nonetheless very concerned that, despite the best efforts of experienced and talented investigators, we cannot say definitively why the truck-tractor departed the roadway and continued across a 58-foot median to cause this crash.

With access to more comprehensive event data, our investigators might have learned additional lessons – perhaps lessons that could help prevent such crashes in the future.

The terrible evening of April 10, 2014, will be memorialized by the families of those lost, by those who survived the crash, by their friends and colleagues, and by the affected communities.

We urge NHTSA and the FMCSA to act on today’s new recommendations, and for NHTSA to act on the recommendations reiterated today, to help prevent such crashes in the future, and to help prevent crashes that do nonetheless occur from taking such a toll.

We stand adjourned.

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