DALLAS (January 5, 2000)
Statement by Jack W. Haugsland, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Greyhound Lines, Inc., January 5, 2000:
The accident involving our bus in Burnt Cabins, Pa., in June 1998, according to all evidence available to us, occurred because the driver suffered either a heart attack or a severe angina attack.
Two renowned pathologists, Dr. Halbert Filinger and Dr. Emanuel Rubin, who have a combined 76 years of professional experience, independently examined tissue from the driver's body. Each concluded that the driver probably suffered a severe cardiac event, which caused the accident.
Prior to the accident, the trip had been routine in all respects. The driver was on a familiar run, appeared normal and alert to dozens of witnesses, and had had time off for sleep far in excess of both government and company regulations.
The driver's behavior in the final seconds before the crash supports the conclusion that the cause was a severe cardiac event, according to the bus industry's leading safety experts, Robert L. Forman of Phoenix and Carmen Daecher of Harrisburg, Pa.
Forman was vice president of safety for both Greyhound Lines and Trailways Lines before setting up his consulting firm in 1987. Daecher was director of safety services for Progressive Insurance before setting up his private practice in 1992.
"The first reaction of a driver in trouble is to get the bus off the road," Forman said. "In the Pennsylvania case, the driver pulled smoothly off the road onto an emergency turnout, just as we would expect.
"Furthermore, all braking action does not leave skid marks, and this driver's condition may have been so weak that he could not depress the brake pedal hard enough to cause skid marks."
Daecher concurs, adding that in modern buses even a hard brake application may not leave skid marks.
For many years the company has had in place comprehensive programs regarding the consumption of legal prescription and over-the-counter drugs and for fatigue management. The safety of our drivers and passengers is our highest priority. The tragic accident of June 1998 does not diminish the quality of our programs or conscientious work of our 4,100 active drivers.
Intercity bus travel, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, is one of the safest forms of transportation in the United States. In the most recent 10-year period reported by NTSB, an average of only four persons were killed per year in bus accidents. During the same period an average of 42,000 persons were killed each year in car and truck accidents.
An audit of Greyhound Lines by the U.S. Department of Transportation in July 1999 found that Greyhound had compiled an accident rate of 0.55 accidents per million miles, about one-third the rate of 1.5 accidents per million miles for all commercial vehicles.
Out of service rates reported by DOT also point to Greyhound's excellent safety record. Only 1.7 percent of our drivers and 6.1 percent of our vehicles were placed out of service when stopped or inspected by any law enforcement agency for any reason. By contrast, for all commercial vehicles, the national out-of-service averages are 8.2 percent for drivers and 25.4 percent for vehicles.
All information known to us about this accident points to the likelihood of a sudden and severe cardiac event causing the accident.
As we have done in the past, we once again express our deepest sympathy to the families of the driver and passengers who lost their lives or were injured in the accident.