Highway Accident Brief: School Bus Bridge Override Following Collision With Passenger Vehicle, Interstate Highway 565 Transition Exit Ramp 19A, Huntsville, Alabama, November 20, 2006

On Monday, November 20, 2006, about 10:10 a.m. central standard time, a 2006 Integrated Conventional Corporation (IC) 71-passenger school bus, transporting 40 students from Lee High School to the Huntsville Center for Technology, was traveling westbound in the left lane of an elevated two-lane Interstate Highway 565 (I-565) transition ramp, in Huntsville, Alabama. A 1990 Toyota Celica, also traveling from Lee High School to the Huntsville Center for Technology, was in the left lane behind the school bus. According to witnesses, the Toyota moved to the right lane and accelerated in an attempt to pass the school bus. The driver of the Toyota stated that as he came alongside the school bus, his vehicle began "fishtailing" and became impossible to control. The Toyota veered to the left, striking the right front tire of the school bus. The vehicles remained in contact as they swerved to the left, and both vehicles struck a 32-inch-high cement bridge rail on the left side of the ramp. Physical evidence indicated that the school bus climbed and overrode the bridge rail. The school bus driver, who was not wearing his seat belt, was ejected from the bus onto the roadway. The bus continued along the top of the bridge rail for about 117 feet before rolling and falling 30 feet to a dirt and grass area beneath the ramp. The school bus landed on its front end, rotated clockwise, and came to rest upright on its wheels. Four students in the school bus were killed. The bus driver was seriously injured, and 33 students received minor-to-serious injuries. Three students were not injured. After striking the bridge rail, the Toyota continued along the ramp. It curved to the right and came to rest against the north bridge rail. The driver and his passenger were not injured. At the time of the accident, the roadway was dry, the visibility was 10 miles, the temperature was 39° F, and the wind was blowing from the north at 14 mph. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 20, 2006, accident in Huntsville, Alabama, was a vehicle loss of control during a passing maneuver around a curve by the Toyota driver attempting to overtake the school bus prior to an impending exit both drivers intended to take. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the restricted trajectory of the school bus away from the bridge rail due to the presence of the Toyota, which resulted in the bus overriding the rail and falling 30 feet from the elevated highway access ramp to the ground.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: 14p

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01145039
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NTSB/HAB-09/01
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 23 2009 1:35PM