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November 25, 2009  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

EXCLUSIVE: Industry officials respond to Huntsville crash report

Mike Martin of NAPT and Charlie Hood of NASDPTS agreed with the NTSB assertion that an event data recorder on the school bus would have provided valuable information on the Huntsville crash.

Mike Martin of NAPT and Charlie Hood of NASDPTS agreed with the NTSB assertion that an event data recorder on the school bus would have provided valuable information on the Huntsville crash.

Following the release of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report on the fatal Huntsville, Ala., school bus crash, two top industry officials shared with SBF their perspectives on the agency’s findings.

Charlie Hood, president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services and the state director in Florida, said that “there are some important takeaways” in the NTSB briefing.

One is the confirmation that the bus driver was not wearing his seat belt. Although NTSB did not determine whether the driver’s ejection from the bus contributed to the loss of vehicle control and the crash, Hood said that “it’s fair to say that this crash investigation will help trainers and supervisors reinforce this important safety requirement when training bus operators or monitoring their performance.

“The few school bus operators who don’t wear their belts, or don’t wear them properly, must be reminded that in a school bus environment in particular, the safety belt not only helps prevent crash injuries, it helps prevent crashes in the first place by keeping drivers in their seats and in control of the bus,” Hood said.

Hood also noted that after a crash, the driver’s condition is critical to his or her ability to help with evacuations and injured students.

Mike Martin, executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), also pointed to the seat belt component of the NTSB report.

“Safety belt use by school bus drivers is critical to maintaining control of the bus under all operating conditions,” Martin said.

Additionally, Martin said that NAPT was pleased to learn from NTSB that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is testing methods to provide school bus passenger protection for sidewalls, sidewall components and seat frames.

In the brief on the Huntsville crash, NTSB reiterated its 1999 recommendation to NHTSA to require event data recorders (EDRs) on school buses and motorcoaches.

Both Martin and Hood agreed that such a device would have provided valuable information on the Huntsville crash.

“While school buses maintain an excellent safety record, I hope that NHTSA is seriously pursuing this recommendation,” Hood said. “Most of the necessary electronics to achieve EDR functionality may already be standard equipment on late model school buses, so it’s possible there would be little extra cost to manufacturers and bus purchasers.”

Martin said that a recorder capturing data at a high enough sampling rate “would certainly have helped state and federal investigators seeking to make science-based recommendations for improving school bus and school bus passenger safety as a result of this crash.”


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Read more about: NAPT, NASDPTS, NTSB, school bus crash

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Did he loss his job. I did and my bus was not that bad.

Tammie    |    Dec 14, 2010 02:11 AM

I look forward to the time when our school buses have the same required EDRs on board just as our do our autos and 18-wheelers are now required to have them. The technology to analyze school bus accidents is a critical safety factor. Please note the data elements listed below as recommended by the NTSB and think for a moment how careful analysis can be done of all school bus collisions with this new technology. School bus collision investigation and accident reconstruction will never be the same. Dr. Ray Turner The full NTSB recommendations regarding school buses having electronic data recorders (EDRs) on board is provided below: "NTSB Safety Recommendation H-09-11 through -13, and H-99-53 and -54 (Reiteration) ************************************************************ The NTSB is reiterating the following safety recommendations and reclassifying them as –Open- Unacceptable Response: Require that all school buses and motorcoaches manufactured after January 1, 2003, be equipped with on-board recording systems that record vehicle parameters, including, at minimum, lateral acceleration, longitudinal acceleration, vertical acceleration, heading, vehicle speed, engine speed, driver’s seat belt status, braking input, steering input, gear selection, turn signal status (left/right), brake light status (on/off), head/tail light status (on/off), passenger door status (open/closed), emergency door status (open/closed), hazard light status (on/off), brake system status (normal/warning), and flashing red light status (on/off) (school buses only). For those buses so equipped, the following should also be recorded: status of additional seat belts, airbag deployment criteria, airbag deployment time, and airbag deployment energy. The on-board recording system should record data at a sampling rate that is sufficient to define vehicle dynamics and should be capable of preserving data in the event of a vehicle crash or

Dr. Ray Turner    |    Nov 26, 2009 08:47 AM

That was the very first thought that enterred my mind when viewing the photos of the bus involved. The driver, in no way shape or form could have had the seat belt on. If he did that very seat belt would have damage. It would have kept the operator in the seat and would have allowed for the best out come by having control over the steering. The bus would not have went up and over the side retainer wall with the driver behind the wheel steering the bus. Prove otherwise. The driver trainers that take their training programs seriously all train their drivers to keep seat belts on at any time the bus is moving. For a driver to not wear a seat belt should be more than just a concern, it should be grounds for termination from employment. Forget the implications of the court battles between insurance companies and school systems. That is going to happen. What cannot be forgotten is the fact that school children were killed on board this bus and numerous others seriously injured physically and mentally. What should not be forgotten is a simple thing of wearing a seatbelt could have changed the whole out come. Black boxes on board buses, what is taking so long on such a simple requirement? Seriously, what is the issue in keeping black boxes from being mandatory? Any mass transit vehicle should be federally required to have them. Airlines have them and usually the companies can't cover up what really happened. That is the heart of this issue. I've seen cover ups. I know what the "good ole boy network" can do. As I have stated in past articles; clean out those in this industry that do not really care about the safety of our children and grand children of the people in our communities we serve. If you find employees not obeying safety regulations, laws, and rules of the industry standards, fire them and train new ones. Lives do depend on all of us who have been in this long enough to take serious stands against the wrongs we see within our own areas and back yards. If we all st

Daniel Luttrell    |    Nov 25, 2009 02:09 PM

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