AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Author Topic: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead  (Read 2611 times)

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #100 on: October 11, 2018, 03:14:21 PM »

But even if the driver was issued the vehicle to drive, he ultimately should have not driven it.
I don't think it is as black and white as Jeffandnicole suggests where the driver's responsibility is concerned.
I tend to agree with JN here, only because I know plenty of people who operate vehicles all the time with limited knowledge of potential issues and how to handle them. And in their own vehicles, much less a vehicle for which a third party is responsible for maintenance and so forth.
However, there is one complicating factor:
Driver was ticketed for lack of proper license (passenger endorsement on a CDL)  for the job - yet continued to operate beyond his license. That is something the driver should be aware of without any doubt. This IS black and white.
Certainly - I agree, but that is a separate discussion.
To be clear, I am not seeking to defend the driver, but he isn't necessarily 100% responsible. Primarily responsible, yes, but not necessarily wholly responsible based on what limited evidence we have.
A part of the question is if the driver knew about inspections and their outcomes as well as previous issues with the vehicle. And remember, driver was ticketed on same vehicle 2 months ago - so definitely it was not the first time driver saw it on the day of accident.   
DOT says vehicle lacked proof of inspection in September -and driver should be able to see the sticker without lengthly walkaround;  and that it had bald tires during inspection. There is a possibility that both were since corrected - but again, we had same driver who was driving same vehicle in August, and inspection happened on 9/4. Until inspection expired at the end of August and tires suffered unusual wear within a month, driver should be aware of vehicle condition from previous trips...

All these doesn't prove driver is at fault, but my impression driver was likely aware of the situation.

Taking that back partially.
here is a screenshot of 3 vehicle inspections done on 9/4: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4996320-Prestige-Inspections.html#document/p1
The top one, TOGALUX1, is the crashed one. but all three vehicles carrier had were deemed OOS.
Given they had 3 vehicles and 2 drivers, I have hard time believing drivers were unaware of fleet condition.
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #101 on: October 12, 2018, 12:11:34 AM »

We are probably going to have to wait for the NTSB report to know exactly what holes in the Swiss cheese lined up.  If the driver was not actually shown the paperwork from the failed inspection or afforded an opportunity to talk with the mechanic responsible, he might have been under the false impression that the problems identified were entirely technical in nature.  We do know that obvious problems such as the noisy engine and the bald tires were disregarded, and it is plain the driver lacked the required endorsements, so it is clear this was not an operation focused on 100% compliance on the part either of the driver or the fleet owner.

The NTSB can be expected to look into a variety of issues, such as who knew what and when; whether the inspection process should include provision for impoundment when certain critical safety defects are discovered; and even whether it was possible for a fleet owner to provide limousine service profitably in this situation while maintaining 100% compliance with safety regulations governing vehicle condition and driver licensing.

The pre-drive inspection routine Jeffandnicole outlines is for eighteen-wheelers.  We need to know what is actually required for limousines.  I highly doubt this accident occurred because of issues with fluids, windshield wipers, lights, or even the tires.  A factor could be a composite design/maintenance issue such as use of the wrong type of brake pad when performing brake pad replacement.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Logged

roadman65

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 8649
  • Location: Orlando, fl
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 12:25:46 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #103 on: October 12, 2018, 11:36:37 AM »

I heard that the son of the owner of the company is being charged (and been arrested) for neglegent homicide.

Also sad as many of the victims were from the same family.  I can't imagine burying 7 people (2 sets of siblings as well) in one household.  It will not be easy for those left behind for sure.  Reading the bios was even hard for me as many did testify that those who died were really nice people and even one of them worked in the NY Senate under a NY Senator.
Logged
Every day is a winding road, you just got to get used to it.

Sheryl Crowe

jeffandnicole

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9110
  • Age: 43
  • Location: South Jersey
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 11:22:53 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #104 on: October 12, 2018, 12:10:47 PM »

The pre-drive inspection routine Jeffandnicole outlines is for eighteen-wheelers.  We need to know what is actually required for limousines.  I highly doubt this accident occurred because of issues with fluids, windshield wipers, lights, or even the tires.  A factor could be a composite design/maintenance issue such as use of the wrong type of brake pad when performing brake pad replacement.

I'm not sure why you continue to discount this stuff.  And I don't know why you insist on making assumptions that try to make the driver an innocent victim here.

I don't drive an 18 wheeler.  I drive a 6 wheel dump truck with my CDL Class B, and everything I mentioned was required to show to my tester on my driving test.  I go thru and certify on a checklist every time I take my truck out on the road that I checked everything, noting any issues. All you have to do is do a quick look online for CDL testing requirements.  It comes up multiple times, often from state DMVs, as to the requirements when one has a CDL.

None of us know what truly happened here.  But when the driver is dead and the owner's son is arrested within a few days of the accident, we're not talking about accidentally using the wrong type of brake pads.  There were numerous ways this accident could have been prevented.
Logged

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 12280
  • (Censored by spoilsports. They ruin everything.)

  • Age: 56
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 04:58:35 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #105 on: October 12, 2018, 03:58:43 PM »

I heard that the son of the owner of the company is being charged (and been arrested) for neglegent homicide.

Also sad as many of the victims were from the same family.  I can't imagine burying 7 people (2 sets of siblings as well) in one household.  It will not be easy for those left behind for sure.  Reading the bios was even hard for me as many did testify that those who died were really nice people and even one of them worked in the NY Senate under a NY Senator.

A number of members of the same family died in that boat incident during the storms at Branson, Mo., a few months ago. They had Kentucky ties (Lexington and Harlan).
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #106 on: October 12, 2018, 07:56:46 PM »

I'm not sure why you continue to discount this stuff.  And I don't know why you insist on making assumptions that try to make the driver an innocent victim here.

Let me explain why I am pushing back against what you are saying about the driver's responsibility.  It is not because I think the driver is wholly without blame.

*  From a systems perspective, it is natural to look at layering a defense against catastrophes of this kind by asking everyone involved to contribute to a good safety outcome.  This includes the driver, the fleet owner, the fleet operator (if not the owner), and the licensing authorities that oversee the operator and driver.

*  In the relationship between operator and driver, the operator has nearly all the economic power.  This includes the ability to hire and fire as well as detailed information as to maintenance and regulatory compliance of the vehicles.  The operator can do more not just to ensure that the driver has a safe vehicle to drive, but also to institute a good safety culture generally.

*  In a fleet scenario where the driver does not perform maintenance on the vehicles himself or oversee others who do, the driver (if he wishes to remain employed) sooner or later reaches a point where he has to trust others to furnish him with a roadworthy vehicle with which he can do his job.  Basic checks can identify some vehicles that have obvious safety problems, but not all problems that can result in catastrophic failure can be found through such checks.

I don't drive an 18 wheeler.  I drive a 6 wheel dump truck with my CDL Class B, and everything I mentioned was required to show to my tester on my driving test.  I go thru and certify on a checklist every time I take my truck out on the road that I checked everything, noting any issues. All you have to do is do a quick look online for CDL testing requirements.  It comes up multiple times, often from state DMVs, as to the requirements when one has a CDL.

My understanding is that eighteen-wheelers have similar pre-driving check procedures.

The vehicle with which we are concerned is a limousine, which was likely diesel-powered but had hydraulic brakes.

None of us know what truly happened here.  But when the driver is dead and the owner's son is arrested within a few days of the accident, we're not talking about accidentally using the wrong type of brake pads.

I beg to differ.  Pads not suited for the application absolutely could have contributed to this crash, if the driver were foolish enough to try to descend the hill without engine braking.

From the standpoint of analyzing causation, I feel the arrest is potentially a misleading signal since the barn door is always easier to close once the horse has bolted.

There were numerous ways this accident could have been prevented.

On this we can agree.  This is why I will be very interested to see which holes in the cheese lined up.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #107 on: October 13, 2018, 02:26:24 AM »


*  In the relationship between operator and driver, the operator has nearly all the economic power.  This includes the ability to hire and fire as well as detailed information as to maintenance and regulatory compliance of the vehicles.  The operator can do more not just to ensure that the driver has a safe vehicle to drive, but also to institute a good safety culture generally.

*  In a fleet scenario where the driver does not perform maintenance on the vehicles himself or oversee others who do, the driver (if he wishes to remain employed) sooner or later reaches a point where he has to trust others to furnish him with a roadworthy vehicle with which he can do his job.  Basic checks can identify some vehicles that have obvious safety problems, but not all problems that can result in catastrophic failure can be found through such checks.

You may be correct for an operation with many drivers and many vehicles, where driver is assigned for the trip to more or less random vehicle.
But we're talking about an operation with 3 (three) vehicles and 2 (two) drivers.
Yes, economic power is on employer's side. However there are certain responsibilities for the employee as well. In this particular case, the driver was explicitly told - via a ticket issued by state police - not to operate the type of vehicle for certification reasons. Can you justify driver ignoring that due to economic pressure?

As for arrest of owner son's aka operator of the business... Looks like the owner and the business has a very interesting history of dealing with laws, and family has enough foreign ties. Junior doesn't have published criminal history, though.
Arrest (and release on bail once a passport was surrendered) seems an only way to prevent someone fleeing abroad. Especially given that the owner is already out of country - and I doubt he would set a foot on US soil ever again. I am not sure there is another simple way to make sure a person doesn't cross the border.
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #108 on: October 13, 2018, 10:57:46 AM »

You may be correct for an operation with many drivers and many vehicles, where driver is assigned for the trip to more or less random vehicle.

But we're talking about an operation with 3 (three) vehicles and 2 (two) drivers.

Yes, economic power is on employer's side. However there are certain responsibilities for the employee as well. In this particular case, the driver was explicitly told - via a ticket issued by state police - not to operate the type of vehicle for certification reasons. Can you justify driver ignoring that due to economic pressure?

From what has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, the driver had a spotty record for reasons other than, and additional to, driving vehicles of a type for which he did not have the appropriate CDL endorsement.  This would likely have made it difficult for him to find other employment if the operator had fired him for (prudently) refusing to drive.  (I lay this out as a possible explanation, not as a justification.  I suspect there was a mutual backscratching arrangement that persisted because the driver was never confronted with a clear choice between continuing to drive and saving his own life.)

As for arrest of owner son's aka operator of the business... Looks like the owner and the business has a very interesting history of dealing with laws, and family has enough foreign ties. Junior doesn't have published criminal history, though.

Arrest (and release on bail once a passport was surrendered) seems an only way to prevent someone fleeing abroad. Especially given that the owner is already out of country - and I doubt he would set a foot on US soil ever again. I am not sure there is another simple way to make sure a person doesn't cross the border.

I don't really have a problem in principle with passport confiscation as a way of preventing a person from fleeing the country to avoid legal process.  I just wonder if the prosecution actually has enough evidence to win if this case gets in front of a jury.  Because prosecutors have wide discretion to charge, and all presumptions are in their favor when the evidence is first evaluated at a preliminary hearing (if one is not waived), it is possible for a negligent homicide/involuntary manslaughter case to get all the way through trial only to result in a loss when the jury decides there is not enough evidence to support the prosecution's theory of causation.  And this is the type of case in which proving causation will be absolutely critical.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #109 on: October 13, 2018, 11:23:40 AM »

You may be correct for an operation with many drivers and many vehicles, where driver is assigned for the trip to more or less random vehicle.

But we're talking about an operation with 3 (three) vehicles and 2 (two) drivers.

Yes, economic power is on employer's side. However there are certain responsibilities for the employee as well. In this particular case, the driver was explicitly told - via a ticket issued by state police - not to operate the type of vehicle for certification reasons. Can you justify driver ignoring that due to economic pressure?

From what has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, the driver had a spotty record for reasons other than, and additional to, driving vehicles of a type for which he did not have the appropriate CDL endorsement.  This would likely have made it difficult for him to find other employment if the operator had fired him for (prudently) refusing to drive.  (I lay this out as a possible explanation, not as a justification.  I suspect there was a mutual backscratching arrangement that persisted because the driver was never confronted with a clear choice between continuing to drive and saving his own life.)
I hate to say that... but how about obtaining proper endorsement?
And question is where is the line you don't want to cross. My impression is that entire operation was a bit past that line.

As for arrest of owner son's aka operator of the business... Looks like the owner and the business has a very interesting history of dealing with laws, and family has enough foreign ties. Junior doesn't have published criminal history, though.

Arrest (and release on bail once a passport was surrendered) seems an only way to prevent someone fleeing abroad. Especially given that the owner is already out of country - and I doubt he would set a foot on US soil ever again. I am not sure there is another simple way to make sure a person doesn't cross the border.

I don't really have a problem in principle with passport confiscation as a way of preventing a person from fleeing the country to avoid legal process.  I just wonder if the prosecution actually has enough evidence to win if this case gets in front of a jury.  Because prosecutors have wide discretion to charge, and all presumptions are in their favor when the evidence is first evaluated at a preliminary hearing (if one is not waived), it is possible for a negligent homicide/involuntary manslaughter case to get all the way through trial only to result in a loss when the jury decides there is not enough evidence to support the prosecution's theory of causation.  And this is the type of case in which proving causation will be absolutely critical.
The jury will be told that it is either driver's fault or equipment fault (or a combination of both). Operator was informed about driver improper license, and about vehicle being non-roadworthy. I don't really see how that can be argued with. Lesser charge may be possible, but I just don't see dismissing the charges.
Logged

jeffandnicole

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9110
  • Age: 43
  • Location: South Jersey
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 11:22:53 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #110 on: October 13, 2018, 12:12:30 PM »

To put it on an equivalent example for most car drivers: Most can't work on their own cars. They take them to a mechanic and trust the mechanic makes the proper repairs. You're on the road and the brakes fail, or a light is out. You're responsible if you're in an accident or get a ticket. You can blame, demand money from or sue the mechanic or repair shop that made the faulty or incomplete repairs, but it's still you that got the ticket and are at fault.

...This would likely have made it difficult for him to find other employment if the operator had fired him for (prudently) refusing to drive.

That's a good thing. He doesn't have a license to drive the vehicle. He SHOULDN'T be able to find employment for something in which he's not authorized to do!
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #111 on: October 13, 2018, 01:27:47 PM »

I hate to say that... but how about obtaining proper endorsement?

He could have and indeed should have done that, but if that were all he did, he would still have died, only with the correct paperwork in place.

And question is where is the line you don't want to cross. My impression is that entire operation was a bit past that line.

Yes, it was well out of bounds, so I wonder why it wasn't ordered to stop trading by the New York authorities.

The jury will be told that it is either driver's fault or equipment fault (or a combination of both). Operator was informed about driver improper license, and about vehicle being non-roadworthy. I don't really see how that can be argued with. Lesser charge may be possible, but I just don't see dismissing the charges.

I can see the jury tendering a not-guilty verdict if it deems the prosecution unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accident was not caused by some factor not within the control of an operator observing the applicable duty of care.

In Kansas there was a somewhat comparable case involving a bartender who continued to serve a cocktail called the "Stoplight" to a woman who was inebriated.  The woman subsequently went home and died of alcohol poisoning.  The DA prosecuted the bartender for involuntary manslaughter and the jury returned a guilty verdict.  The bartender appealed, saying he should not have been found criminally liable for an action (continuing to serve alcohol to an inebriated person) for which he is shielded from civil liability under state law.  The Kansas Supreme Court rejected this argument, as well as others that were based on what were deemed "jury questions," but threw out the conviction because the prosecution had not proven that the death could not have been caused by some other factor, like the woman continuing to drink once she returned home.

To put it on an equivalent example for most car drivers: Most can't work on their own cars. They take them to a mechanic and trust the mechanic makes the proper repairs. You're on the road and the brakes fail, or a light is out. You're responsible if you're in an accident or get a ticket. You can blame, demand money from or sue the mechanic or repair shop that made the faulty or incomplete repairs, but it's still you that got the ticket and are at fault.

Equipment faults like burnt-out lights are strict liability and in many jurisdictions there is provision for tickets to be forgiven if repairs are proved.  Fault or liability resulting from a failed principal-agent relationship is a more involved determination, often involving not just the car owner or the mechanic, but also their respective insurance companies.

That's a good thing. He doesn't have a license to drive the vehicle. He SHOULDN'T be able to find employment for something in which he's not authorized to do!

This is true, but the point here is that if we ask for this accident to have been prevented by the driver refusing to drive the vehicle, then we are asking for the driver to do something he had powerful economic incentives not to do.  He could have gotten the correct CDL A endorsement but would still not have been an attractive candidate for another employer because of the at-fault accident and the unpaid ticket.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

jeffandnicole

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9110
  • Age: 43
  • Location: South Jersey
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 11:22:53 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #112 on: October 14, 2018, 09:16:11 AM »

Honestly, it makes you wonder why he was driving a limo without the proper endorsement with this questionable company rather than an 18 wheeler to begin with. Did he do it for the love of driving, for a few extra dollars, or did he already have an issue that prevented him from getting a good trucking job to begin with?
Logged

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #113 on: October 14, 2018, 10:00:45 AM »

Honestly, it makes you wonder why he was driving a limo without the proper endorsement with this questionable company rather than an 18 wheeler to begin with. Did he do it for the love of driving, for a few extra dollars, or did he already have an issue that prevented him from getting a good trucking job to begin with?
Could easily be a weekend/second job.
There were reports that limo drove 1300 miles between inspections, in 6 months if I remember correctly. That was important as the vehicle was ordered off the road during the previous inspection.
Even with all the waits, 200 miles a month is not really enough for a driver to make living.
Logged

jeffandnicole

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9110
  • Age: 43
  • Location: South Jersey
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 11:22:53 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #114 on: October 14, 2018, 10:29:35 AM »

Honestly, it makes you wonder why he was driving a limo without the proper endorsement with this questionable company rather than an 18 wheeler to begin with. Did he do it for the love of driving, for a few extra dollars, or did he already have an issue that prevented him from getting a good trucking job to begin with?
Could easily be a weekend/second job.
There were reports that limo drove 1300 miles between inspections, in 6 months if I remember correctly. That was important as the vehicle was ordered off the road during the previous inspection.
Even with all the waits, 200 miles a month is not really enough for a driver to make living.

Although most limo rides are based on time, not distance. We don't know what other jobs he may have had as well
Logged

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #115 on: October 14, 2018, 10:49:31 AM »

Honestly, it makes you wonder why he was driving a limo without the proper endorsement with this questionable company rather than an 18 wheeler to begin with. Did he do it for the love of driving, for a few extra dollars, or did he already have an issue that prevented him from getting a good trucking job to begin with?
Could easily be a weekend/second job.
There were reports that limo drove 1300 miles between inspections, in 6 months if I remember correctly. That was important as the vehicle was ordered off the road during the previous inspection.
Even with all the waits, 200 miles a month is not really enough for a driver to make living.

Although most limo rides are based on time, not distance. We don't know what other jobs he may have had as well
20 years of truck driving are mentioned. Which is not too much for a 53 year old driver, but a good chunk of experience in terms of both time on the road and time to familiarize with regulations. Driver experience is surely something NTSB should look at, so we will see.
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #116 on: October 14, 2018, 10:56:37 AM »

Another possibility is that the driver was working another job that did not involve being on the road, e.g. the floor at Walmart.  I find it kind of difficult to imagine he was also holding down an eighteen-wheeler driving job:  don't those employers expect their drivers to be on call seven days a week?

Edit:  I suspect the immediate cause of the accident was the driver's failure to downshift for the hill.  If investigation proves that to be the case, then we may very well find that most if not all of the very real compliance issues are, in a sense, beside the point.  My experience, speaking as someone who has had experience with hill descents in several gas-powered automatics and who normally tries to get from hilltop to valley with brake lights dark the entire way, is that I am usually the only person going down any given hill that is not riding his or her brakes.  I have explained my method on this forum several times and while there are some who get it, there are others who are reluctant to take it on board because they believe it will destroy their transmissions, notwithstanding my repeated assurances that automatics are designed for this specific use and that I have never had to have a transmission opened for repair for any reason.

A person with a CDL A license with twenty years' experience in eighteen-wheelers is arguably at a disadvantage trying to descend a hill in a passenger-car conversion (which is essentially what this limo is) with automatic transmission.  Compression braking is more problematic with diesel engines of the types fitted to eighteen-wheelers because it depends on a retrofitted appliance that attracts regulation because it is a noise nuisance, so in practice I see tractor-trailers relying on friction braking to some degree.  Furthermore, many--perhaps most--drivers accustomed to manual transmissions are not aware that automatics offer similar engine braking capabilities, and thus do not understand how to exploit them.

The advantage of descending a hill in a way that keeps the brakes cool is that one can avoid discovering, to one's cost, how little fade resistance they may have.  The NTSB may very well find that the technical difficulty of providing adequate fade resistance in limos of this form factor justifies banning them.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 12:47:21 PM by J N Winkler »
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

Beltway

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3273
  • Roads to the Future

  • Location: Richmond, VA
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 11:45:52 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #117 on: October 14, 2018, 02:57:59 PM »

My experience, speaking as someone who has had experience with hill descents in several gas-powered automatics and who normally tries to get from hilltop to valley with brake lights dark the entire way, is that I am usually the only person going down any given hill that is not riding his or her brakes.  I have explained my method on this forum several times and while there are some who get it, there are others who are reluctant to take it on board because they believe it will destroy their transmissions, notwithstanding my repeated assurances that automatics are designed for this specific use and that I have never had to have a transmission opened for repair for any reason.

I too manually downshift an automatic on downgrades, with the intent of using the brakes as little as possible.  Riding the brakes down a long hill will shorten the life of brake linings if done regularly.  Within reason using the engine as a brake causes no harm to the engine or transmission.  I too have never had to have a transmission opened for repair for any reason, and am over 500,000 miles on automatic transmissions.
Logged
Scott M. Savage
-- Borders, Language and Culture
http://www.roadstothefuture.com
http://www.capital-beltway.com

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #118 on: October 14, 2018, 05:05:11 PM »

Another possibility is that the driver was working another job that did not involve being on the road, e.g. the floor at Walmart.  I find it kind of difficult to imagine he was also holding down an eighteen-wheeler driving job:  don't those employers expect their drivers to be on call seven days a week?

Edit:  I suspect the immediate cause of the accident was the driver's failure to downshift for the hill.  If investigation proves that to be the case, then we may very well find that most if not all of the very real compliance issues are, in a sense, beside the point.  My experience, speaking as someone who has had experience with hill descents in several gas-powered automatics and who normally tries to get from hilltop to valley with brake lights dark the entire way, is that I am usually the only person going down any given hill that is not riding his or her brakes.  I have explained my method on this forum several times and while there are some who get it, there are others who are reluctant to take it on board because they believe it will destroy their transmissions, notwithstanding my repeated assurances that automatics are designed for this specific use and that I have never had to have a transmission opened for repair for any reason.

A person with a CDL A license with twenty years' experience in eighteen-wheelers is arguably at a disadvantage trying to descend a hill in a passenger-car conversion (which is essentially what this limo is) with automatic transmission.  Compression braking is more problematic with diesel engines of the types fitted to eighteen-wheelers because it depends on a retrofitted appliance that attracts regulation because it is a noise nuisance, so in practice I see tractor-trailers relying on friction braking to some degree.  Furthermore, many--perhaps most--drivers accustomed to manual transmissions are not aware that automatics offer similar engine braking capabilities, and thus do not understand how to exploit them.

The advantage of descending a hill in a way that keeps the brakes cool is that one can avoid discovering, to one's cost, how little fade resistance they may have.  The NTSB may very well find that the technical difficulty of providing adequate fade resistance in limos of this form factor justifies banning them.

Frankly speaking, this is a pretty plausible scenario. And there are a few mentions that cheap limo conversions do not change braking systems - and now there is a 20klb vehicle with 7klb braking system.
Now, for someone with a CDL license, idea of engine braking shouldn't be foreign. I thought it is part of a CDL test (a practice test I just found had that as question #3).
I don't know what kind of linkage can be drawn between that and passenger endorsement, but I am sure prosecution will find one.
Logged

US71

  • Road Scholar , Master of Snark
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 7721
  • Sign Inspector

  • Age: 58
  • Location: On the road again
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:21:16 PM
    • The Road Less Taken
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #119 on: October 14, 2018, 05:32:34 PM »



Frankly speaking, this is a pretty plausible scenario. And there are a few mentions that cheap limo conversions do not change braking systems - and now there is a 20klb vehicle with 7klb braking system.
Now, for someone with a CDL license, idea of engine braking shouldn't be foreign. I thought it is part of a CDL test (a practice test I just found had that as question #3).
I don't know what kind of linkage can be drawn between that and passenger endorsement, but I am sure prosecution will find one.

Passenger endorsement usually doesn't require a test, simply pay an extra $5 to add it to your driver's license. At least, that is how Arkansas does it (or did when I drove taxi). CDL you have to pass a test, again, at least in Arkansas.
Logged
a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest -- Simon & Garfunkel

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #120 on: October 14, 2018, 05:58:53 PM »



Frankly speaking, this is a pretty plausible scenario. And there are a few mentions that cheap limo conversions do not change braking systems - and now there is a 20klb vehicle with 7klb braking system.
Now, for someone with a CDL license, idea of engine braking shouldn't be foreign. I thought it is part of a CDL test (a practice test I just found had that as question #3).
I don't know what kind of linkage can be drawn between that and passenger endorsement, but I am sure prosecution will find one.

Passenger endorsement usually doesn't require a test, simply pay an extra $5 to add it to your driver's license. At least, that is how Arkansas does it (or did when I drove taxi). CDL you have to pass a test, again, at least in Arkansas.
I doubt it is just a fee. Fee and a test is more believable.
NYS CDL manual:
Quote
      To get the passenger endorsement you must pass a knowledge test on Sections 2 and 4 of this manual. (If your bus has air brakes, you must also pass a knowledge test on Section 5.) You must also  pass the skills tests required for the class of vehicle you drive.
Section 4 is passenger-specific, section 2 is general safety (including engine brakes). I am not sure if previous CDL counts towards section 2 test, or it must be retaken for an endorsement.
Logged

Brandon

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9736
  • Mr. Accelerator is our friend; Mr. Brake is not.

  • Age: 41
  • Location: Joliet, IL
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:58 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #121 on: October 15, 2018, 07:21:20 AM »



Frankly speaking, this is a pretty plausible scenario. And there are a few mentions that cheap limo conversions do not change braking systems - and now there is a 20klb vehicle with 7klb braking system.
Now, for someone with a CDL license, idea of engine braking shouldn't be foreign. I thought it is part of a CDL test (a practice test I just found had that as question #3).
I don't know what kind of linkage can be drawn between that and passenger endorsement, but I am sure prosecution will find one.

Passenger endorsement usually doesn't require a test, simply pay an extra $5 to add it to your driver's license. At least, that is how Arkansas does it (or did when I drove taxi). CDL you have to pass a test, again, at least in Arkansas.

CDL used to be "how much would you like to contribute to George Ryan's campaign fund?" in Illinois.
Logged
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." - Ramsay Bolton

Illinois: America's own banana republic.

Screw the KSA; Stand with Canada.

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #122 on: October 15, 2018, 11:55:06 AM »

Now, for someone with a CDL license, idea of engine braking shouldn't be foreign. I thought it is part of a CDL test (a practice test I just found had that as question #3).

I think we can take it for granted (though of course this should be checked, just to ensure that due diligence is done) that at some point, as part of the CDL A licensing process, the driver would have been required to demonstrate knowledge of engine braking on a written test.  But:

*  There is a difference between showing knowledge of something on a written test and being willing to apply that knowledge on the road, either in a driving test setting or once licensed.

*  Experience applying engine braking on one type of vehicle does not guarantee that the driver will know how to use it on another type of vehicle, even if both vehicles are covered by the same license category or by the same endorsement within a given category.

In regard to the latter point, the example that comes to mind for me is a friend of mine who, like me, had a Kansas noncommercial class C driver's license.  By many criteria he is a better driver than I am--he learned on a manual and has much greater motor fluency, so he is able to handle higher speeds safely, and achieves vehicle sympathy naturally while I huff and puff at it.  Yet, on a family vacation in the early noughties, he smoked the brakes on a minivan going down the 10% grade on US 14 Alternate in the Big Horn mountains in north-central Wyoming.  I expressed consternation that he didn't downshift, explaining that I had gone down the same grade twice in low gear without having to tap the brakes except for hairpin curves.  He told me that he would have done so in a manual, but the minivan was an automatic and he had not known downshifting for engine braking is also possible in automatics.

In order for having a CDL A license with the correct passenger endorsement to improve the driver's chances of negotiating the NY 30 hill with engine braking, I think the following would have had to happen:

*  Passenger endorsement requires both a written and practical test (not just a fee)

*  Practical test can be taken only at a CDL testing center near steep hills, over a testing loop that involves a hill descent for which the candidate is expected to demonstrate knowledge of engine braking

*  Candidate is required to take the practical test in the specific vehicle he or she will be driving with the endorsement, if it is granted

New York is not a flat state, but even there I think it would be difficult to channel all CDL applicants through a testing process that requires actual demonstration of engine braking.  In a state with very restrained topographical relief like Kansas or Florida, it would be well-nigh impossible.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

kalvado

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2298
  • Location: upstate NY
  • Last Login: October 20, 2018, 09:57:35 PM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #123 on: October 15, 2018, 12:13:32 PM »

Now, for someone with a CDL license, idea of engine braking shouldn't be foreign. I thought it is part of a CDL test (a practice test I just found had that as question #3).

I think we can take it for granted (though of course this should be checked, just to ensure that due diligence is done) that at some point, as part of the CDL A licensing process, the driver would have been required to demonstrate knowledge of engine braking on a written test.  But:

*  There is a difference between showing knowledge of something on a written test and being willing to apply that knowledge on the road, either in a driving test setting or once licensed.

*  Experience applying engine braking on one type of vehicle does not guarantee that the driver will know how to use it on another type of vehicle, even if both vehicles are covered by the same license category or by the same endorsement within a given category.

In regard to the latter point, the example that comes to mind for me is a friend of mine who, like me, had a Kansas noncommercial class C driver's license.  By many criteria he is a better driver than I am--he learned on a manual and has much greater motor fluency, so he is able to handle higher speeds safely, and achieves vehicle sympathy naturally while I huff and puff at it.  Yet, on a family vacation in the early noughties, he smoked the brakes on a minivan going down the 10% grade on US 14 Alternate in the Big Horn mountains in north-central Wyoming.  I expressed consternation that he didn't downshift, explaining that I had gone down the same grade twice in low gear without having to tap the brakes except for hairpin curves.  He told me that he would have done so in a manual, but the minivan was an automatic and he had not known downshifting for engine braking is also possible in automatics.

In order for having a CDL A license with the correct passenger endorsement to improve the driver's chances of negotiating the NY 30 hill with engine braking, I think the following would have had to happen:

*  Passenger endorsement requires both a written and practical test (not just a fee)

*  Practical test can be taken only at a CDL testing center near steep hills, over a testing loop that involves a hill descent for which the candidate is expected to demonstrate knowledge of engine braking

*  Candidate is required to take the practical test in the specific vehicle he or she will be driving with the endorsement, if it is granted

New York is not a flat state, but even there I think it would be difficult to channel all CDL applicants through a testing process that requires actual demonstration of engine braking.  In a state with very restrained topographical relief like Kansas or Florida, it would be well-nigh impossible.

NY requires at least a written test for endorsement.
As for actual test with slopes... Not a big issue for the area in question. But then, should someone taking a test in Phoenix be required to use wipers? Rain is not very common there... Would you defend the same way someone who crashed in the rain because they didn't see the road and didn't know wipers?
  You really can do engine braking just as a way to slow down on a level road - even if for the testing purposes only....
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5971
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 12:11:01 AM
Re: Fatal crash in Schoharie, New York - 20 persons dead
« Reply #124 on: October 15, 2018, 12:28:40 PM »

As for actual test with slopes... Not a big issue for the area in question. But then, should someone taking a test in Phoenix be required to use wipers? Rain is not very common there...

Wipers as part of a driving test in Phoenix?  Yes, absolutely.  Although the aggregate annual rainfall is low, rainstorms when they arrive are often quite violent.  Plus, although southern Arizona is mostly desert, some knowledge of winter driving is necessary because of the climate north of the Mogollon Rim and the local microclimates in the "sky islands."

Would you defend the same way someone who crashed in the rain because they didn't see the road and didn't know wipers?

The two situations are not comparable.  Unless you silanize the windshield with Rain-X or similar (not a common approach, and not really effective without some airspeed to provide wiping action), there is really no alternative to the wipers for maintaining visibility in rain.  On the other hand, for descending a hill both the engine and the brakes are available.  What you are testing for is not skill or technique so much as the judgment to use the engine instead of the brakes to maintain a steady speed on the incline.

You really can do engine braking just as a way to slow down on a level road - even if for the testing purposes only....

Yes, and this is better than nothing, but it also fails to capture whether the driver will use engine braking on an actual hill.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.