It was a truly tragic bus accident, marked by a sheer dichotomy in which both nothing was learned and much was learned, respectively.
Many of our readers might well remember the sad day in April of last year when a heavy commercial truck and a motorcoach carrying scores of passengers collided on an interstate in northern California.
The truck and bus collision had horrific consequences, taking the lives of eight bus passengers and both drivers. Thirty nine other people were injured in the incident, including two from a car that was also struck by the truck.
To this day, accident investigators probing the details of what happened near the small town of Orland say that they simply can't determine any reason why the truck driver veered across a wide median and collided head on with the bus, which was traveling in the opposite direction.
Notwithstanding the inexplicable cause of the crash, though, a significant amount of important crash-related information was uncovered by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board. They have issued a number of post-crash recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Those recommendations centrally include the following proposals:
- Upgrading fire-performance standards and flammability requirements for motorcoaches
- Requiring that motorcoach companies conduct pre-trip safety briefings focused upon exits and evacuation procedures
- Improving emergency-related signs and lighting in bus interiors
- Having event data recorders (black boxes) routinely installed on all motorcoaches and commercial trucks
NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart particularly stressed the data recorders, saying that they are instrumental in providing key information in such crashes. He stated that his agency has been unsuccessfully recommending their installation in trucks and buses for over 10 years.
Source: Claims Journal, "NTSB calls for black boxes, safety improvements for motorcoaches," NTSB cited as source, July 20, 2015