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NHTSA Investigates Deadly Bus Drive Shaft Defect

Federal safety regulators have begun a probe into a possible bus defect which may have contributed to several serious recent bus accidents. Bus accidents are among the most serious types of traffic incidents in California and seriously many people every year.

The federal probe started when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received a complaint filed by the parent company of Greyhound bus lines. The complaint alleges that several Greyhound buses made by Motor Coach Industries Inc. had defective drive shafts. The shafts were reportedly not properly held up by safety hooks, which could cause the drive shaft to fall out of place and result in a bus driver losing control while driving.

The most serious of the Greyhound crash linked to the manufacturing defect happened on I-37 near San Antonio. The bus driver lost control of the bus when the drive shaft broke and the bus flipped over, killing two and injuring 40.

Not all defective drive shafts fall off completely. One expert says that a defective drive shaft can snag on the pavement and flip a bus over. Additional testing of defective drive shafts showed that bus brakes can be compromised by a falling drive shaft as well.

The NHTSA investigation is ongoing and no recall has been issued yet. Is unclear how many of these potentially dangerous buses are currently in use, but Motor Coach Industries advertises itself as the largest maker of intercity buses in America.

Source: Associated Press, “Feds probe bus defect that may have caused crashes,” Tom Krisher, March 26, 2012