In the wake of January 2008's motorcoach accident in Mexican Hat, Utah, the National Transportation Safety Board made several safety recommendations to the coach operator - Arrow Stage Lines - as well as the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), American Bus Association (ABA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and others.
The NTSB's recommendation for Arrow Stage Lines was to develop written contingency plans for each charter to ensure that trip planning is in place in the event of driver fatigue, incapacitation, or illness or in the event of trip delays necessitating replacement drivers to avoid hours-of-service violations and inform drivers of their trip's contingency plans.
The NTSB also urged the ABA and the UMA to inform its members through Websites, newsletters and conferences of the circumstances of the Mexican Hat accident. Further recommending that the prepared information should encourage charter operators to develop written contingency plans for each charter to ensure that trip planning is in place in the event of driver fatigue, incapacitation, or illness or in the event of trip delays necessitating replacement drivers to avoid hours-of-service violations and inform drivers of their trip's contingency plans. The NTSB also added that the prepared information should provide information about the risks of operating in rural areas without wireless telephone coverage and advise its members to carry mobile cellular amplifiers or satellite-based devices to communicate emergency events.
Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration was urged to develop and implement, in conjunction with AASHTO and the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials, criteria based on traffic patterns, passenger volume and bus types that can be used to assess the risks of rural travel by large buses and to use the criteria as part of the SAFETEA-LU requirement to identify and select Highway Safety Improvement Program projects.
The NTSB also urged the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services to develop a plan that can be used by state and public safety answering points to pursue funding for enhancements of wireless communications coverage that can facilitate prompt accident notification and emergency response along high-risk rural roads, as identified under SAFETEA-LU criteria, and along rural roads having substantial large bus traffic, and evaluate the system of emergency care response to large- scale transportation-related rural accidents and, once that evaluation is completed, develop guidelines for emergency medical service response and provide those guidelines to the States.
The full list of recommendations may be viewed on NTSB's Website, www.ntsb.gov.