By Ben Wolverton (@BWolvertonWBNC)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -
The National Transportation Safety Board met today to discuss the probable cause of the Chesterfield Elementary School bus accident which occurred in February of 2012.
Here are our notes that we took during the meeting:
School bus driver
less than 5 hours each night, below human norm which is 7-9 hours, making up for it on the weekends
low back and leg pain, affected how he walked, so could have affected his driving
the evening prior to the incident ending at 11pm
a combination of three sedating medications
Clonazepam anti anxiety
Desvenlafaxine anti depressant
Tramadol pain reliever
These medications, combined with fatigue and alcohol use caused "inadequate scanning" and the acceleration to continue through the intersection
Some people take alcohol to get to sleep, but actually deprives you of sleep
He had the normal morning and afternoon shift, and took a 10-15 minute nap in between.
To get his CDL for bus driving, he had to undergo a medical examination. He did not go to his normal doctor, but to some kind of specialist, who mainly relied on the driver's own testimony.
It was said at the meeting that if he had revealed more about his chronic pain, alcohol use, and medications, he would not have gotten certified and wouldn't have been driving.
-No problems with the bus
-Seat belts operated as they should, though the NTSB recommends shoulder bands to accompany the lap bands to prevent upper body flailing, and cushions on the interior walls of the school bus.
2004 Mac Truck
-1 brake was defective and increased collision severity
He was required to go to the closest scale, which was closer to the construction site than the destination, but didn’t
84,950 was the weight of the truck
Only allowed to have 80,000
Truck was going around 10mph over the speed limit
The snow plow attachment on the front of the truck helped to concentrate the impact.
Pine trees blocked view
Bus driver was 14 feet in front of the white stop line to increase the distance he could see
No crashes at that intersection in the preceding year
The skew angle of the intersection was 63%
The government doesn't recommend redoing intersections unless they are less than 60% or less
No stop light because it didn’t meet the requirements for it
Upgraded signage, and added a blinking yellow light
Obtained funding for a roundabout
At least some of the pine trees have been relocated
SCHOOL BUS OCCUPANTS SAFETY:
25 total passengers
1 fatality last row
5 serious injuries
10 minor injuries
Driver: minor injuries
NJ is one of 6 states where buses are required to have seat belts
Many of the passengers were not wearing lap belts at all
Fatality was not likely wearing a seat belt
-Occupant simulation was shown of what might have happened if they didn’t wear the seat belts
People were invited to leave the room if they chose
Lap belts do not prevent injury from upper body flailing
An animation was shown when you wear a shoulder belt, the upper body flailing was very reduced
Fewer impacts of interior surfaces
The following were not a factor in the crash:
-School bus problems
-Emergency response was timely and adequate
-Bus driver did not effectively scan before the impact
-School bus driver was fatigued
-Driver failed to disclose important medical information
-Medical examiner did not fully examine him
-He likely would not have received his license
-Some doctors that currently can certify people may not know enough to actually certify
-Brakes would not have met timing requirements
-Herman’s Trucking did not have effective oversight of its drivers
-The location of the white stop line did not have anything to do it because the driver went past it anyway to see
-Some students wore their lap belts incorrectly or not at all
-Better parent and student education would increase the usage of seatbelts
Here is the official (longwinded) cause report from the NTSB:
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