The National Transportation Safety Board recommended to NHTSA that it initiate rulemaking to require stability controls on all commercial buses, including school buses, as well as trucks in response to a serious crash near Indianapolis in October 2009.
Most pertinent to the student transportation industry, NTSB said electronic stability controls should be installed in all buses and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds to work with both hydraulic and pneumatic brake systems. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman wrote NHTSA Administrator David Strickland on Sept. 2 that research shows the effectiveness of electronic stability controls in preventing rollovers, though she noted that it was impossible to determine if electronic stability controls would have prevented the Indianapolis crash.
Bob Riley, executive director of NASDPTS, confirmed in a memo to association members that school buses are rolled under the recommendation.
NTSB's accident investigation revealed that the probable of the incident on an curved connection ramp linking Interstate 69 and Interstate 465 was the "excessive, rapid, evasive steering maneuver" of a tractor-trailer operator that resulted in a rollover crash, fire and several serious injuries. The 2006 Navistar International truck-tractor in combination with a 1994 Mississippi Tank Company MC331 specification cargo tank semitrailer was carrying 9,000 gallons of liquefied petroleum gas.
Another rollover crash in 2009 involving a 29-passenger charter bus in Dolan Springs, Ariz., resulted in NTSB previously urging NHTSA to initiate rulemaking to require stability control systems in all newly manufactured buses with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds. That recommendation also noted that these buses have hydraulic brakes as well as pneumatic brakes, "which use different components and approaches to modulate, maintain and release the pressurized fluid or air sent to the foundation brakes to prevent wheel lock up."
NTSB also found that distracted driving contributed to the Arizona charter bus crash and recommended that NHTSA initiate rulemaking on lane departure systems and electronic on-board recording systems.
NHTSA has yet to take up the stability control issue, so Hersman closed the previous recommendation as NTSB combined both commercial buses and trucks greater than 10,000 pounds GVWR under the new recommendation.
FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro received a similar letter calling for electronic stability controls for hazardous material cargo tanks.