Pedal Misapplication Blamed in 2005 Bus Crash


The National Transportation Safety Board has delivered its report on the 2005 Liberty school bus crash, which killed two and injured 49. According to the report, the accident findings are consistent with “pedal misapplication.” Along with this event, the NTSB presented evidence of five other reports of pedal misapplication.

Pedal misapplication occurred due to the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal placement being two inches apart at the same height on the school bus. Drivers who may be “under duress” may hit one when they meant to hit the other. The NTSB recommends analyzing the placement of pedals in school buses, especially since they’ve already done so with passenger cars. Analyzing commercial vehicle pedal placement should be next. However, the board also suggests drivers become habitually familiar with where pedal placement is on their buses.

In addition to reporting on pedal misapplication in school buses, the NTSB reiterated its call for data recorders on buses. They have called for this technology since 1999. Deb Hersman, the NTSB Chairwoman, said, “We will aggressively pursue to push these recommendations.” One of these recommendations is brake transmission shift interlock systems to be installed on all new buses. These systems are on most vehicles manufactured over the last several years; the system requires the brake to be depressed prior to the vehicle being put into gear. NTSB investigators believe the addition of BTSI would have prevented pedal misapplication bus accidents.

The 2005 school bus accident killed two drivers the bus hit and injured the 48 students and school bus driver.