NY Senators Call for Audit After Fatal Bus Crashes

Following a second <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/bus_accidents">fatal bus crash this month, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will co-sponsor legislation to strengthen bus safety and improve driver training. “The tragedy of two fatal crashes in just four days make a thorough, industry-wide review of bus safety standards by NTSB even more important. I’m not going to rest until we get to the bottom of what happened in both of these crashes, and put in place the necessary safeguards to make commercial buses as safe as they possibly can be,” said Senator Schumer.

My Fox Philly reported that just last night, a PRT Tour bus filled with 25 South Korean citizens traveling from Quebec to Boston rolled on a New Hampshire interstate highway. That crash, the third this month, resulted in 17 injuries; five serious, necessitating hospitalization.

The first of the two bus crashes that prompted Schumer and Gillibrand occurred on March 12th, when a World Wide Tour bus traveling from Connecticut to Chinatown crashed, killing 15 people in New York City. Two days later on March March 14th, a discount tour bus crashed in New Jersey, resulting in two deaths, said WPIX, one was the driver, who was ejected through the front windshield, said Senator Schumer. Schumer noted that half of all motorcoach fatalities in the past decade took place as a result of rollovers, with 70 percent of the fatalities involving ejection from the bus.

Unfortunately, such incidents are all too common. Meanwhile, in August 2005, a discount tour bus traveling from Boston to New York burst into flames in Connecticut. In September 2006, another discount tour bus driving toward Manhattan crashed in Massachusetts; three people sustained injuries. In May 2007, a crashed involving a tour bus on a trip from New York to Chicago resulted in two fatalities. This June, a bus driving from Chinatown to Atlantic City crashed; the driver was ejected and run over, said Senator Schumer.

“We can’t wait for another deadly bus crash to increase protections for consumers and ensure bus safety,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This bipartisan legislation is an important step towards reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by motorcoach accidents. This common sense approach would help overhaul bus safety standards by requiring seat belts and stronger roof standards to better withstand rollovers. Congress must come together and prevent any future bus trips from turning into tragedies.”

“Every year millions of adults and children ride on motorcoaches without the basic safety protections routinely available in other modes of transportation. And every week, on average, there is a motorcoach crash or fire that often results in deaths and injuries that could have been prevented,” said Jackie Gillan, Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, quoted Senator Schumer’s office. “Recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for improving occupant protection and keeping unsafe motorcoach operators off our roads have largely been ignored or languished for many years. Passage of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act will change that and save lives.” The Act, sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, would specifically require:

• Improved commercial driver training. Today, federal regulations do not mandate training.

• Safety belts and stronger seating systems.

• Anti-ejection glazing windows.

• Strong, crush-resistant roofs that can withstand rollovers.

• Improved protection against fires by reducing flammability of the motorcoach interior, and better training for operators in the case of fire.

• A National Commercial Motor Vehicle Medical Registry to ensure only medically qualified examiners conduct physical examinations of drivers and a medical certificate process to ensure all certificates are valid and no unqualified operator drives.

• Strengthened motorcoach vehicle safety inspections, such as roadside inspections, safety audits, and state and motor carrier programs for identifying vehicle defects.

• Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) with real-time capabilities to track precise vehicle location that is driver tamper-proof.

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