Jury points to pedal misapplication in Liberty bus crash

Thomas McMahon
Posted on March 26, 2013
This image shows the approximate path of the school bus in the fatal Liberty, Mo., crash in 2005.  Image from NTSB report, courtesy of Missouri State Highway Patrol

This image shows the approximate path of the school bus in the fatal Liberty, Mo., crash in 2005.
Image from NTSB report, courtesy of Missouri State Highway Patrol

LIBERTY, Mo. — Eight years ago, a school bus driver here lost control of her bus and crashed into two vehicles — an accident that killed two motorists and injured dozens of students.

The school bus driver in the May 9, 2005, Liberty crash told authorities that she could not stop the bus.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigated the accident, found that the information uncovered suggested that pedal misapplication — accidentally hitting the accelerator instead of the brakes — was a factor in the crash. The circumstances, the agency said, “are consistent with driver pedal misapplication.”

The NTSB also found that the Liberty accident “cannot be attributed to a mechanical failure of the school bus.”

In 2008, a grand jury cleared the Liberty school bus driver of criminal wrongdoing in the crash.

In 2009, the NTSB issued a report that examines pedal misapplication through analyses of the Liberty crash and four subsequently investigated accidents involving heavy vehicles, dating from 2005 to 2008, in which pedal misapplication was determined to be a factor.

Now, in a civil trial that ended on Friday, a jury echoed the NTSB in concluding that the driver accidently hit the accelerator rather than the brake. According to a Kansas City Star article on the case, the families of three of the crash victims had charged in a lawsuit that the crash was caused by faulty brakes.

Related Topics: fatalities, Missouri, NTSB, school bus crash

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • David Merrill

     | about 5 years ago

    As a school bus and motor coach driver I have found that several times I have found myself "Fat footing" the brake pedal. Meaning that if you do not get the left side of your foot up tight aganist the steering column housing you will probably hit both pedals. I drive a 2008 Mercury Grand Marquies and I have to left foot brake because the pedals are too close together. I know of a lady who use to drive a town car (same body style) and drove straight into a ditch and tiped the car over on it's top nose first because of hitting both pedals.

More Stories

Driver Message Sign

The Driver Alert Message Sign is designed to help reduce illegal passing of school buses by improving direct line of sight visibility for oncoming drivers.


School Bus Driver Suspended After Bathroom Break to Keep Job

A New Jersey superintendent’s call to fire Gaye Kish for using her phone, having a friend board her bus, and taking a bathroom break during her route is rejected by the board of education. Kish cites a medical condition as the reason for taking the break.


Convertible Seating Solution

Blue Bird Corp. and HSM’s convertible NextGen seat allows the customer to change the seat back frame to have three-point belts or child restraints without having to purchase new seats.

A <I>PBS NewsHour</i> piece looks at the safety benefits and financial concerns involved in the issue of seat belts on school buses.

PBS Probes School Bus Seat Belt Debate

The PBS NewsHour piece looks at safety benefits and financial concerns involved in the issue. Interviews include transportation directors and NHTSA’s former administrator.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!