NTSB Investigation Reveals Multiple Factors Caused Serious Fatal Texting Accident
Federal motor vehicle safety agencies have concluded an investigation of a major multi-car pileup last year in Missouri which has revealed a perfect storm of factors that combined to create this fatal accident.
The many forms of negligence both involving driving behavior and vehicle maintenance that contributed to this major collision illustrate the broad scope of unsafe practices that may contribute to serious motor vehicle collisions.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently concluded its investigation of this serious crash, which was caused by a pickup driver texting while driving. The 19 year-old pickup driver was later discovered to have sent or received a total of eleven texts in eleven minutes prior to causing the collision. The teen driver drafted and sent six texts and received five texts in the minutes immediately preceding the serious collision. The teen driver’s pickup truck smashed into the back of a tractor-trailer at a speed of 55 mph. The teen driver started a chain reaction multi-vehicle pileup when a school bus then rear-ended the pickup truck which in turn was rear-ended by another school bus. The tragic accident resulted in the death of the pickup truck driver and a student on one of the school buses as well as injury to another 38 people during the collision.
While the investigation focused on the role that text messaging caused in the accident, there were several other factors that contributed to the collision. Investigation by the NTSB revealed that the pickup truck driver’s judgment may also have been eroded by driver fatigue. The pickup truck driver had averaged only about 5.5 hours of sleep in the days before the collision and got less than 5 hours of sleep the night before the collision. Driver fatigue combined with texting resulted in a sleepy driver who was visually, physically and mentally distracted.
The investigation revealed there were other factors that contributed to the fatal crash that had nothing to do with the negligent pickup truck driver. The investigation revealed that both school buses had significant issues with their brakes. One of the buses also had issues with the children being able to exit the school bus because the doors were not operable after the crash. The tragedy could have been much worse because a puddle of fuel pooled under the first bus to crash. The difficulty for children in exiting the bus could have been devastating if the fuel had ignited or exploded.
While the NTSB focused on the texting conduct that initiated the multi-car pileup, the collision involved four vehicles, and three of the vehicles and/or drivers had issues that could have contributed to a motor vehicle collision. The point to take away from this collision is that there are far more unsafe drivers and poorly maintained vehicles than most people believe traveling our roadways. The prevalence of unsafe driving behavior and motor vehicles with mechanical issues makes the possibility of being involved in a serious motor vehicle collision all too real.
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