Emergency evacuation tips can sometimes be a painful routine before traveling, but for the California college students who narrowly escaped from a burning tour bus last year, the safety information they never received despite company policy could have helped spare them from injury.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) members investigating the bus crash say that Silverado Stages bus drivers never showed the passengers a safety video or told them about the emergency exit windows on the bus, even though it was company policy to do so.
In April 2014, the Silverado Stages bus was carrying several Southern California students to tour Humboldt State University in Northern California when a FedEx truck traveling in the opposite direction on Interstate-5 suddenly veered across the 58 foot median and struck with the bus head-on. The collision killed five students, three chaperones, the bus driver, and the FedEx truck driver.
Seven of the 10 people who died in the California crash survived the crash initially but then died of smoke inhalation because they couldn’t escape the burning bus on time, the Coroner of Glenn County, Calif., found.
NTSB investigators interviewed all of the surviving passengers and found that more than half of the 29 students did not know which windows provided emergency escape exits. Some of the students shattered other window panels to escape the bus.
The first bus driver, who was not involved in the crash, told NTSB authorities that he did not show passengers the six-minute safety video that demonstrates the location of emergency exits and how to use them. He also told investigators he couldn’t remember whether he had told the passengers how to escape the bus in an emergency.
“The whole thing just got so lost, you know,” the bus driver told interviewers. “So the audience, honestly, most of the time when I’m talking, they’re just talking to each other and they don’t listen.”
Silverado Stages changed its policy after the crash and now requires drivers and clients to confirm they gave safety instructions, the Associated Press reported.
The NTSB has not said whether it has determined what caused the FedEx truck driver to veer into oncoming traffic, but it expects to issue a final report this summer.