WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he continues to press the Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve motorcoach safety following the January 5th bus crash that killed five people, including a Dayton elementary school student and a graduate of The Ohio State University.
“The Department of Transportation needs to stop dragging its feet and stop putting students and other passengers at risk – it’s their job to make sure Ohioans are safe on the road,” said Brown. “Every day Americans take more than 1.5 million motorcoach trips, and parents sending their children on field trips or on the road to away games shouldn’t have to worry the bus they’re riding isn’t safe.”
In 2012, Brown’s Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act was enacted as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Brown’s bill required safety belts and stronger seating systems, anti-ejection glazing windows to prevent passengers from being easily thrown outside the motorcoach and strong, crush-resistant roofs that withstand rollovers.
Unfortunately, DOT has yet to fully implement several provisions of Brown’s bill.
Brown is sending a letter to DOT this week, calling on the agency to:
- Revisit retrofitting older motorcoaches with seatbelts to ensure all commercial motorcoaches are equipped with seatbelts.
- Move forward on two rules based on Brown’s legislation to improve roof strength and anti-ejection safety.
- Issue outstanding reports on studies researching collision avoidance systems, interior impact protection and compartmentalization safety countermeasures.
- Issue fire prevention standards based on research completed because of Brown’s legislation, especially in light of the motorcoach fire in Mississippi this weekend.
Brown was joined on today’s call by Mr. John Betts, whose son David died in a 2007 bus crash involving members of the Bluffton University baseball team.
“On March 2nd 2007, after identifying my son David Betts at Atlanta’s Fulton County Morgue, I returned to Grady hospital where many of the players were recovering and being checked out. I promised the players that something good would come out of this horrific motorcoach crash, that killed 7 and permanently injured many more, because David was so good. After 5 years of multiple trips to Washington DC and many letters written to congress, something good did happen, the Surface transportation bill sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown and Kay Bailey Hutchison was passed which required seatbelts, roof strengthening, safety glass, and many other occupant safety features to be put on all new motorcoaches. Let’s stop messing around with the vulnerable public lives and complete my promise to the Bluffton baseball players and my son,” said Mr. Betts.
Brown is asking DOT to revisit the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act from MAP-21, finalize the outstanding rules and reports, and use the tools at their disposal to improve the safety of motorcoaches. Brown is also asking DOT to provide a timeline for completing and implementing the outstanding rules and publishing the required report.