WASHINGTON, D.C. — American Bus Association president and CEO Peter Pantuso, attended a hearing held by the National Transportation Safety Board at its Washington, D.C. headquarters to examine the cause of a motorcoach accident that killed four people on May 31, 2011. The Sky Express motorcoach was bound for New York City when it overturned on Interstate 95, about 30 miles north of Richmond, near Doswell, Va. In addition to four deaths, the accident left more than 50 people injured.
The coach driver faces four counts of involuntary manslaughter. His trial begins Nov. 8. The company’s dispatcher faces the same charges in October.
The NTSB found the driver was severely fatigued and fell asleep at the wheel while driving in the middle of the night. He had numerous opportunities to sleep before the accident but chose not to do so. The Board also criticized the poor management of Sky Express and the quality of safety oversight from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The ABA supports the findings of the NTSB report and is working closely with NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, board members and staff on improving motorcoach safety.
ABA reviews its motorcoach membership list every 90 days. Companies that have an “unsatisfactory” safety rating are immediately removed from ABA. Companies with a “conditional” rating have 180 days to raise their scores to “satisfactory.” If they do not, they are dropped from the association.
“The NTSB today took a very strong step towards once again highlighting the cause of this entirely preventable accident and bringing much needed attention to the issue of illegally and poorly operating motorcoach companies,” Pantuso said in a release.
“Sky Express never should have been allowed to continue operating after twice being declared unsatisfactory — unfit to operate. The company was repeatedly cited and warned by government agencies that it was operating in a dangerous manner. The NTSB’s report found that the driver, Sky Express, and government regulators failed the traveling public.”
Other ABA executives who attended the hearing include Norm Littler, ABA vice president for safety, security and regulatory programs; and Dan Ronan, senior director of communications, media and marketing.
A summary of the NTSB report, including findings, safety recommendations and webcast of the board meeting, is available at: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/2012/doswell_va/index.html
Source: American Bus Association