WASHINGTON, D.C. - A distracted driver was the cause of a tour bus crash on U.S. 93 that claimed the lives of seven Chinese tourists and injured 10 last year, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The bus, carrying 16 passengers, was returning to Las Vegas the afternoon of Jan. 30, 2009 after a trip to Grand Canyon West when the accident occurred.
The NTSB believes the driver of the bus, Han Dong, was trying to work the controls of the door to the bus when the bus, traveling at 70 mph, drifted out of the left-hand lane and on to the shoulder.
The driver then overcorrected, crossed the northbound lanes of traffic and entered the right shoulder.
He then jerked the bus to the left, crossed both northbound lanes and the median before rolling the bus more than once and coming to a rest in the southbound lanes of the highway.
According to the NTSB's report, the direction of the sun was not a factor in the crash.
The driver also was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was not using a cell phone.
There were no mechanical problems with the bus, despite DW Tour and Charter's, the owner of the bus, lack of regular inspections.
If the bus had lane departure warning and stability control systems, along with passenger restraints and safety glazing on the windows the accident would not have been as severe, according to the NTSB's report.
The NTSB is recommending that all new commercial vehicles, other than school buses, exceeding 10,000 pounds be outfitted with these systems and a data recording system.