In February 2012, a school bus carrying New Jersey students in kindergarten through the sixth grade stopped at a flashing red light then proceeded into the intersection. A truck traveling down the intersecting road hit the school bus as the bus entered the oncoming traffic. The school bus spun around and hit a pole. An 11-year-old girl on the bus died, and five other students suffered serious injuries.
Unfortunately, this tragic accident involving a school bus and a truck offers a textbook example of several dangers inherent with the operation of large commercial vehicles.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examined the accident and came to the following conclusions in a preliminary report released in July 2013:
· The school bus driver did not adequately look for oncoming traffic before proceeding through the intersection
· The school bus driver was too tired to drive due to a combination of sleep loss and poor quality of sleep related to prescription medicines he was taking for a medical condition
· The medical examiner granting the school bus driver his commercial driver’s license failed to adequately check for dangerous medical conditions
· The truck driver was speeding, which added to the severity the fatal impact
The NTSB had several recommendations in its initial report, most directed to the specific causes of this accident. However, the agency also again called for the implementation of connected vehicle technology, which would let vehicles communicate with one another, warn drivers, and, hopefully, help avoid motor vehicle accidents.
While this technology and the other NTSB recommendations may reduce crashes, they can’t prepare for every possible contingency. As this horrific example suggest s, accidents involving large commercial vehicles often have multiple causes and numerous parties that contribute to any deadly consequences.