|Bluffton University bus accident|
|Date||05:38, March 2, 2007|
|Bus||Van Hool T2145 luxury touring coach|
The Bluffton University bus crash was an automobile crash that occurred during the early morning hours of March 2, 2007, on Interstate 75 in Atlanta, Georgia. A chartered motorcoach was carrying 33 members of the Bluffton University baseball team from Bluffton, Ohio, on their way to play Eastern Mennonite University during spring break in Sarasota, Florida. The group planned to travel without an overnight stop on the approximately 900-mile, 18-hour trip. The trip went without incident from Bluffton south to a motel in Adairsville, Georgia, at which time a relief driver began operating the bus for the second half of the trip.
About 5:38 am EST, while operating the motorcoach southbound in a left-hand HOV lane of I-75 in the Atlanta metropolitan area, the driver accidentally entered a left exit ramp, which ended abruptly at an elevated T-junction marked by a stop sign. When it reached the top of the ramp and the stop sign, the bus was traveling at highway speed. The driver lost control of the bus, which slid sideways into a concrete bridge wall and chain-link security fence, then fell 19 feet, landing on its left side across the interstate highway below. Twenty-nine passengers survived the crash, while seven occupants were killed.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched a team to the scene and began an investigation. Local and state police and officials of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) also investigated. In its final report, the NTSB determined that the probable cause was "the motorcoach driver's mistaking the HOV-only left exit ramp to Northside Drive for the southbound Interstate 75 HOV through lane." A contributing factor to the crash was "failure of the Georgia Department of Transportation to install adequate traffic control devices to identify the separation and divergence of the Northside Drive HOV-only left exit ramp from the southbound Interstate 75 HOV through lane." The NTSB further determined that contributing to the severity of the crash was "the motorcoach's lack of an adequate occupant protection system."