School bus crashes in the spotlight at NTSB meeting
School bus safety will the focus of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) meeting next month to consider the Special Investigation Report based on the investigation of two 2016 school bus crashes.
On Nov. 1st in Baltimore, Maryland, a city school bus crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a commuter bus, killing six people. On Nov. 21, a school bus in Chattanooga, Tennessee traveling on a narrow, winding road rolled over onto its passenger side and became wrapped around a tree. Five of the 37 children on the bus died at the scene of the crash; a sixth child died two days later. Twenty-three children were hospitalized with injuries, six of them in critical condition.
The Special Investigation Report will examine selective issues in school bus transportation safety discovered during the NTSB’s investigation of those crashes.
One topic sure to be explored: how bus drivers are screened and evaluated for employment. The driver involved in the Baltimore had a history of seizures and had been involved in at least 12 crashes in the past five years, according to an incident report released previously by the NTSB. Glen Chappell, 67, experienced "seizure-like episodes" in a number of those crashes, and had one just a week before the fatal accident, the NTSB said. Chappell was among the six fatalities in the incident.
Chattanooga police officers said speed may have been a factor in the Chattanooga crash, noting that the bus was traveling between 48 and 52 m.p.h. in a 30 mph zone. Students had previously complained about the driver’s quality of driving.
The NTSB’s Special Investigation Report will detail the probable cause for each crash, but by combining both investigations into one comprehensive report, the NTSB is able to focus on specific areas of concern found in both crashes, which allows the agency to highlight where recommendations are needed to continue to improve school bus transportation safety.
The meeting is open to the public and will be held in the NTSB’s Boardroom and Conference Center, 420 10th Street, SW, Washington. A link to a live webcast of the meeting will be available shortly before the start of the meeting at http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org/.