Over the past decade there have been several bus crashes that have wrongfully killed many people.
A recent crash in New York killed 15 passengers and injured several others. The other bus accidents in New Jersey and New Hampshire have increased scrutiny and rumors from congress to pass safety bills that have been recommended for over a decade.
The safety bills that are directed at large buses including a seat belt requirement for all passengers and electric onboard recorders that record how long the driver has been on shift. It has also been recommended that the buses have roofs that are stronger to prevent crushing and from passengers being ejected in a rollover accident. The board also wants bus windows to be glazed using new methods to increase integrity. None of these recommendations have been implemented by congress yet.
Approximately half of all motor coach deaths have been from rollover accidents from passengers being ejected from the bus.
Chairwoman Deborah Hersman from NTSB said, “It’s frustrating to be on the sidelines and get called to yet another accident in (New York) and know the issues that we’ve made recommendations on are stagnating. If the regulatory agency had moved on their rulemakings, or the Congress had required these things to be done, we might have been able to prevent some of these fatalities.”
The safety board scheduled a public forum to discuss these issues on bus and truck safety. Over the last few years, the only safety recommendation that has been accounted for is the ban on texting by bus and truck drivers. It was also proposed to ban handheld phone use, but that has not been passed yet.
There have also been many recommendations regarding driver training before receiving a commercial driver’s license. The Transportation Department has been working on bus driver training and testing regulations for almost six years. If this process had gone quicker, many believe that it could have prevented the several deaths that have occurred over the last few years from bus accidents.
In a study conducted by NTSB, it shows that 60% of the fatal bus crashes over a 12 year time frame were the result of driver problems. It seems that LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation, seems to be prioritizing this issue, rather than past legislation that put it off to the side and let the safety bill proposal fade.
Issues are mired in controversy. Many believe these plans are not cost-effective while others believe that passengers would be willing to pay a little more for safer buses. A survey shows that are about 750 million passenger trips a year on buses.