NTSB releases details around fatal I-70 crash between truck, bus

Updated Dec 21, 2023

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Dec. 18, 2023:

Fatal I-70 crash involved high school charter bus: NTSB digs into details

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have determined the circumstances that led to a fatal crash on Nov. 14 in Ohio involving multiple vehicles, including a tractor-trailer, a motorcoach carrying high school band students and more.

A preliminary report from NTSB says that on Tuesday, Nov. 14, around 8:52 a.m. Eastern, a 2019 Freightliner Cascadia coupled with a 2017 Strickland trailer operated by Mid-State Systems Inc. was traveling westbound on I-70 when it approached “a traffic queue that had formed due to an earlier crash that occurred near milepost 117.2.”

According to NTSB, the truck “did not slow and struck the rear of a 2015 Nissan Murano, occupied by the driver and two passengers, traveling west in the right lane as it slowed for the traffic queue.” The truck then “overrode the Nissan and collided with the rear of a 2009 Van Hool motorcoach occupied by the driver and 54 passengers. The motorcoach struck the rear of a 2006 Toyota Highlander which rotated counterclockwise while travelling forward.”

The Toyota then hit the left side of a 2014 Volvo tractor-trailer before coming to rest in the left lane. As the motorcoach continued to travel forward, it struck another Volvo tractor and trailer in the rear. 

Following the impact between the 2019 Freightliner and the Nissan, a post-crash fire ensued that consumed the truck, the Nissan and the rear of the motorcoach.

The occupants of the Nissan and three motorcoach passengers died in the crash. The drivers of the 2019 Freightliner, the motorcoach, and the Toyota, as well as several motorcoach passengers, were treated for injuries.

All aspects of the crash remain under investigation while NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar events. ​

[Related: Tragedy near Columbus shuts down I-70]

Interstate Health offering discounted DOT physicals through end of year

Interstate Health, a medical services company working to improve access to quality healthcare for truck drivers, is offering $49.99 Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals for commercial drivers and fleet operators at its Racine, Wisconsin, and Port Wentworth, Georgia, locations until Dec. 31, with no appointment necessary.

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The company is offering these deeply discounted DOT physicals in conjunction with the grand openings of these two locations earlier this fall, and as a way to thank valued commercial drivers for all they do during the holiday season and year-round, the company said.

In addition, both clinics are offering free sports physicals for their broader communities.

The company said fleet operators can buy discounted DOT physicals before the end of the year and redeem at any time through March 31, 2024.

Interstate Health Racine is located in the Racine Petro at Exit 333 off I-94. Interstate Health Port Wentworth is located at the Port Fuel Center, 5712 Highway 21, Suite 300, Port Wentworth, GA 31407.

[Related: You failed your DOT physical. Now what?]

Freightliner 114SD Plus, Western Star 47x and 49X: New automated transmission option

The Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies company's Endurant XD series automated transmission is available in select vocational Western Star and Freightliner models -- both truck brands are subsidiaries of Daimler Truck North America (DTNA).

Eaton Cummins' Endurant XD AMTAs part of the Cummins integrated powertrain, Endurant XD and Endurant XD Pro, paired with the Cummins X12 or X15 engine, can be ordered in the Western Star 47X and 49X and the Freightliner 114SD Plus​.

“We offer our vocational customers reliable products that can be outfitted to suit their needs,” said Aaron Scates, Vice President, Vocational and Medium Duty Market Development at DTNA. The Endurant XD series are all-new, purpose-built, 18-speed automated manual transmissions designed for applications with high gross combined weight ratings, such as heavy-haul and double- and triple-trailer tractors, and heavy-duty vocational trucks operating in harsh environments.

“The Endurant XD series represents a new level of precision, control, and durability that will change the way vocational fleets think about AMTs,” said Dave Karnes, sales vice president for Eaton Cummins.

The Endurant XD has undergone millions of miles of testing from Australia to Mexico, the company said, in a variety of applications including dump and logging trucks. Its robust design features encapsulate electronics that are protected from the environment and provides operators with oil pressure and temperature information to ensure performance in extreme conditions.         

[Related: Manual, automated-manual, automatic? Owner-operators' transmission preferences haven't changed much]

Love’s adds 377 truck parking spaces with 4 new locations

Love’s Travel Stops on Dec. 14 announced the opening of four new locations in California, Indiana, Mississippi and New York. Combined, the four new stores add 377 truck parking spaces to the company’s network.

In Salinas, California, a new Love’s offers 93 truck parking spaces, an Arby’s restaurant opening Dec. 18, nine diesel bays, seven showers, a Speedco opening Jan. 24 and more.

A new Love’s in Michigan City, Indiana, features 114 truck parking spaces, a Godfather’s Pizza opening Dec. 18, a Taco John’s, eight diesel bays, nine showers, a Speedco opening Jan. 31 and more.

Truckers traveling along I-59 in south Mississippi have a new parking and fueling option in Nicholson. The new Love’s there boasts 99 truck parking spaces, a Bojangles opening Dec. 18, eight diesel bays, seven showers and more.

Finally, drivers frequenting Upstate New York can now stop at a new Love’s in Watertown, which offers 71 truck parking spaces, a Godfather’s Pizza opening Dec. 18 and a McDonald’s, seven diesel bays, five showers, a Speedco opening Jan. 10 and more.

“Opening four locations in a single week is an accomplishment to be proud of and our team members are ready to serve customers with clean places and friendly faces in Salinas, Michigan City, Nicholson and Watertown,” said Shane Wharton, president of Love’s. “Each location will provide professional drivers and four-wheel customers with amenities that will get them back on the road quickly.” 

[Related: New York wants truckers' input on parking challenges, opportunities]

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