NTSB recommends new bus safety rules after deadly Orland crash

Jul 14, 2015 2:57 PM by News Staff

Investigators are calling for increased safety standards following a yearlong probe into a collision between a FedEx tractor-trailer and a bus carrying high school students that killed 10 in Orland last year.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday voted to urge regulators to improve emergency exits and add fire-resistant materials to buses so it is easier for passengers to survive crashes.

NTSB officials say pre-trip safety briefings must be required, claiming the lack of a briefing when the bus left Los Angeles in April 2014 created confusion during the evacuation.

According to the NTSB, several passengers died from smoke inhalation while trying to exit the bus.

Additionally, officials say motor coach safety standards are outdated, and don't match the standards for passenger aircrafts or trains.

To address the needs created by larger passenger loads, officials proposed additional emergency exits on commercial motor coaches, specifically exits that are better suited for fiery crashes.

During the Orland bus crash, injured passengers had to stand up and climb out the exits, a process officials say contradicts fire safety protocols. After standing up and opening the exits, the passengers had to jump seven feet to the ground, which placed them between the two burning vehicles.

In May, state investigators faulted the FedEx driver for the collision, but California Highway Patrol Investigators could not determine why the driver veered across the Interstate 5 median into oncoming traffic. NTSB officials said Tuesday it isn't likely he was sleeping, because a number of the events leading up to the head-on collision would have woken him.

The April 10, 2014, collision happened in Orland. The dead included both drivers, five students heading to a visit at Humboldt State University and three adult chaperones.

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