Safety board renews school bus seat belt call after crash that killed bus driver
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a public safety advisory, saying the failure of a seat belt on a Southwest Bus Authority school bus led to the fatality of the bus driver in Arizona on Feb. 26.
The bus, operated by Southwest Bus, had an accident with a pickup truck near the intersection of SR 92 and FM 815 in Mohave County, Ariz., according to the NTSB.
The crash resulted in one fatality and injured 19 people.
It was unclear why the school bus driver had not been wearing his seat belt, the NTSB said in a preliminary report.
The bus was manufactured in 1996, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which issued the bus seat belt citation.
The NTSB determined that Southwest Bus failed to use the “most effective means of operating the bus in the crash.”
The driver died following the crash, and all students on the bus were uninjured.
The NTSB said in its safety briefing that the truck driver reported using his seat belt during the impact.
The driver of the pickup truck reported not using his belt and was not cited for that violation.
Southwest Bus did not return a request for comment.
The bus seat belt infraction does not require a citation but results in a $1,000 fine.
The board has received more than 4,000 public safety briefing requests in the past two years, but has yet to issue them, an NTSB spokesman said.
The safety advisory follows an NTSB investigation that found the failure of the seat belt was a contributing factor in the crash. The investigation by the agency’s National Transportation Readiness Center (NTRC) was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Although Southwest Bus has not been cited in the past, this advisory is based on information we received to provide our thoughts to the community as they are considering the risk of allowing driver fatigue or distraction to contribute to the severity of this bus fatality,” the board said.
The bus seat belt guidance was issued by NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.
“Each time we issue this advisory, we take this further step in our process,”