NTSB Recommends Safety Changes in Response to Fatal Motorcoach Accident

AASHTO Journal, 3 August 2012

A March 2011 accident in which a motor coach left the road and ran into a highway signpost, killing 15 people and injuring 18 more, has prompted the National Highway Safety Board to suggest further research into how guardrail works with commercial vehicles, and that design changes to guardrail and barriers be included in the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide.

The NTSB earlier this month sent a letter to AASHTO highlighting its recommendations, which included:

  • Work with Federal Highway Administration to establish performance and selection guidelines for state transportation agencies to use in developing objective warrants for high-performance barriers applicable to new construction and rehabilitation projects where barrier placement has been determined to be appropriate.
  • Evaluate the adequacy of barrier systems currently approved through National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 350 or the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware for safety redirecting commercial passenger vehicles and, if warranted, develop new barrier designs incorporating appropriate height and deflection characteristics capable of safely redirecting commercial passenger vehicles.
  • Once barrier testing has been completed and selection guidelines have been developed, revise chapter 5 of the Roadside Design Guide to incorporate guidance for the selection of high-performance barriers used in new construction and rehabilitation projects; this guidance should specifically address the unique considerations of shielding commercial passenger vehicles from point hazards.

NTSB also sent recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FHWA, the American Bus Association, the National Motor Coach Network, and the United Motor Coach Association.

Many of the AASHTO recommendations from NTSB require input and guidance from member states and AASHTO committees. AASHTO staff will coordinate with the Subcommittee on Design’s Technical Committee on Roadside Safety to address the proposed recommendations.

The letter sent to AASHTO is available online at bit.ly/NTSBletter. The other recommendation letters are available at bit.ly/NTSBletters.

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