Flanked by Vietnamese community members who wore white bands on their heads to signify the recent deaths in their family, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee announced plans Saturday to push for legislation that could mean jail time for bus drivers and company owners who are negligent or reckless.
"There's something about telling people they'll go to jail that gets their attention," said Jackson Lee, D-Houston.
The proposal comes on the heels of the Aug. 8 crash in Sherman that killed 17 members of Houston's Vietnamese Catholic community. While not yet penned, Jackson Lee said she envisions 10 years incarceration and fines of up to $100,000 for bus drivers and owners who fail to adhere to federal safety guidelines.
"This community has suffered enough and to tell them there are no laws in place is a double tragedy," Jackson Lee said.
Violations would include failing to regularly test drivers and putting passengers on buses with conspicuous neglect. Drivers could also be punished for excessive speeding, driving under the influence and other repeat violations.
The congresswoman also vowed to support the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, legislation proposed last fall by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that also pushed for safety and oversight advances. That legislation would also mandate better training of operators to protect passengers from death and injury due to ejection, rollover and fires.
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