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Speeches

Board Meeting: Highway Accident Report—Motorcoach Collision With Crash - Opening Statement
T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH
NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center, Washington, DC
3/28/2017

As prepared for delivery

Good afternoon and welcome to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Bella Dinh-Zarr, and it is my privilege to serve as Acting Chairman of the NTSB. With me today are Member Robert Sumwalt, Member Christopher Hart, and Member Earl Weener. 

Today, we meet in open session, as required by the Government in the Sunshine Act, to consider the crash of a Greyhound bus into a crash attenuator and concrete barrier on Highway 101 in San Jose, California, on January 19, 2016.

The bus was exiting left from Highway 101. However, in the rainy darkness of the early morning, with few visible road markings, the driver only thought he was in the exit lane. In fact, he had not moved over far enough to be in the exit lane and was still in the adjacent gore - the paved area between the main lane and the exit lane.

Ahead of him was an unmarked crash attenuator, capable of absorbing the energy of, and/or redirecting, a car or a light truck -- but not a 50,000-pound bus. Beyond the crash attenuator was a concrete barrier. The bus struck the crash attenuator, rode up the barrier, rolled onto its right side, and came to rest atop the barrier with its undercarriage facing traffic.

Of the 21 passengers on the bus, two were ejected and died of their injuries. Thirteen other passengers and the driver were injured.

On behalf of my fellow Board Members and the entire NTSB staff, I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of those who died. We do hope that the findings and safety recommendations developed and reiterated during this investigation will help to prevent this type of tragedy in the future. To those who were injured, we hope you are on the way to the fullest possible recovery.

Today we will discuss how this bus driver suddenly encountered a virtually invisible obstacle in a non-travel area that he mistook for an exit lane. We will consider what allowed such circumstances to develop, as well as what actions can be taken to help prevent such circumstances from recurring.

Perhaps just as importantly, we will also discuss measures that can make such crashes less deadly. For example, lap/shoulder restraints were available on board the accident bus. Yet in this crash, only two of the 21 passengers were restrained.

Unfortunately, this is consistent with our experience with previous bus crash investigations, in which bus passengers have rarely worn their seatbelts.

In the past, the NTSB has made recommendations which, if acted upon, would result in greater seat-belt use on buses. Today’s presentations also illustrate what can be gained through action on these recommendations.

Now Acting Managing Director Dennis Jones will introduce the staff. Mr. Jones.

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