Many Unanswered Questions Following Fatal FedEx Truck-Bus Crash

April 13, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board about a fiery crash between a FedEx Freight tractor-trailer and a bus in California that killed 10 won’t be issued for at least about another month.

Investigators are expected to be on the scene for another five to 10 days near Orland, Calif., north of Sacramento. The crash happened late Thursday afternoon along Interstate 5, after the truck crossed the median, hitting the bus traveling in the opposite direction.

The board said on Sunday while it has not ruled out the possibility that the truck was on fire before it crossed the median like some eyewitnesses claim,  so far it has found no immediate evidence of a pre-impact fire. It did confirm it has found no evidence the tractor trailer tried to brake before it crossed the median at about a 10-degree angle. They found more than 150 feet of skid marks from the bus as it tried to avoid being struck.

Investigators have reportedly recovered the electronic control module from the bus, which could hold some clues as to how the crash happened. The one from the truck was too heavily damaged. There is other physical evidence from both vehicles they will examine.

The bus was carrying high-school students from Southern California to an event at a college in the northern part of the state. Five students were killed, along with three chaperones. The drivers of both the truck and bus were also killed. More than 30 others of the near 50 passengers on the bus were injured, some seriously.

A final report from the NTSB could take around a year to prepare.


  1. 1. haller [ April 14, 2014 @ 07:19AM ]

    One thing it known about the fed-x truck that was hauling butt, and that is fed-x trucks have Electronic Recorders,(Logs) that get the most miles driven per hour out of the driver and truck. To achieve this the truck must keep at the speed limit or slightly over the speed limit, ie: down hill, and on the flats. Fed-x trucks pass every truck on the highway along with UPS to stay on schedule which is set by managers or dispatch. People who don't have to do the work set an extremely tight, almost dangerous schedule for the driver to adhere to which is a large part of the highway accident rate. If you want 100% accident free highways, then the truck gets there when it gets there, not when some one in an office tells it to get there, there are too many variables when driving a big truck..

  2. 2. Greg Foreman [ April 14, 2014 @ 04:58PM ]

    I can't help but wonder if the trailers were hooked up in the correct order. With multiple trailers, the heaviest trailer should always be hooked up last. If the trailers are not hooked up in the correct order, placing the heaviest loaded trailer last, a "whip" effect will be created potentially overcoming the drivers ability to control the trailer. If these two trailers were hooked up incorrectly, this could be a contributor to the accident.

  3. 3. haller [ April 15, 2014 @ 06:42AM ]

    Greg your dead wrong. I pulled twin 53 ft. reefers (turnpike doubles or trains) in the late 70's and early 80'S for Universal Foods on the Ind. and Ohio Pike and the heavy trailer always goes up front.

  4. 4. richardo [ April 19, 2014 @ 07:54AM ]

    Been reading all reports that the truck was on fire on the right side before it crashed hitting the bus. Being a mechanic for over 30 years I suspect the fuel line that is attached to the 7th injector or doser unit that sprays fuel direct to the diesel particulate filter for emissions possibly fell off and sprayed fuel onto the hot exhaust manifold or the diesel particulate filter housing which is extremely hot about temperatures up to or over 600 degrees outside temp caught fire exhaust smoke in the cabin driver passed out from fumes caused the fiery crash. But also Fed Ex should also have some sort of GPS system that can tell what the road speed what direction the truck was traveling braking what percentage the throttle pedal was at and other details they can get

  5. 5. ThatGuy [ April 27, 2014 @ 08:45PM ]

    "Haller" - You're wrong.

    The truck involved in this crash was a FedEx Freight (Formerly - American Freightways/Watkins/Viking) unit, NOT FedEx Ground (Formerly - Roadway Package Systems or "RPS").

    FedEx Freight is a Less Than Truck Load (LTL) carrier that operates a 100% company truck fleet with EVERY truck set at no more than 65MPH. FedEx Ground is on the other hand is a (small) package company, with a combination of company trucks and owner operators. Therefor at FedEx Ground's truck speed are set by the individual truck owner.

    Furthermore, FedEx Freight (FXF) DOES NOT utilize electronic logging devices. Drivers at FXF utilize a combination of paper logs and a hand held computer that communicates with the vehicle and operating center. This computer locks out it's screen when the vehicle is in motion.

    The truck involved in this crash was already identified as a 2007 Volvo, which FXF would of equipped with additional safety equipment such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning system, and roll over stability control.

    Now, as for the trailers. The front trailer in this crash was partially loaded and the rear trailer was empty (per multiple news articles).

    If I had to form a personal opinion, I would have to agree with what "richardo" posted above.


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