A 2014 California collision between a semi truck, a passenger car and a motorcoach led to an extensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. That investigation culminated in the NTSB releasing several recommendations designed to improve highway safety. The accident claimed the lives of 10 people, some of which might have been saved if the safety measures had been in place beforehand.
The NTSB called for stronger safety measures in the construction of motorcoaches regarding flammability and emergency exits. The interiors of coach buses receive flammability testing based on fire sources like lit cigarettes and matches. That testing does not reflect the reality of most bus fires, however. The NTSB would like stronger fire performance standards based on more realistic scenarios.
Among the people killed in the coach bus were at least two who died of smoke inhalation. The NTSB cited the difficulty of getting out of such buses when fire and smoke are present in making recommendations. The passengers on the bus had not been shown the safety video or given the pre-trip safety briefing about proper evacuation in the event of an emergency.
As for semi trucks, the NTSB reiterated its recommendation that trucks be equipped with event data recorders, sometimes referred to as “black boxes” similar to those in commercial aircraft. The investigation failed to determine why the semi truck crossed a median before striking the passenger vehicle and motorcoach. It was able to rule out several potential causes, but not to reach a final conclusion on the matter. An event data recorder could have supplied that information and led to better safety recommendations going forward.
Source: Claims Journal, “NTSB Calls for Black Boxes, Safety Improvements for Motorcoaches,” 20 July 2015