WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following reports of another tour bus crash, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stepped up pressure to pass comprehensive legislation to strengthen safety standards for tour busses to prevent these types of crashes. Today’s tour bus crash is the latest in a string of accidents that have left 32 people dead and 323 injured.
“How many more deaths and injuries do we need to see before there’s action to strengthen safety requirements for tour busses? It’s outrageous that we continue to see these deadly crashes occur, when common-sense fixes could prevent them,” Brown said. “Although the Department of Transportation has stepped up their enforcement and taken unsafe carriers of the road, more still needs to be done. We can’t wait any longer.”
Last week, Brown was joined by Greyhound CEO, David Leach, who announced his company’s support for the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sens. Brown and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).
Brown first introduced the legislation—which was passed unanimously by a key Senate panel in May and awaits final passage by the full Senate—following a 2007 crash of a tour bus carrying 33 Bluffton University baseball players that claimed seven lives. During last week’s press conference, Brown was joined by John and Joy Betts, of Bryan, Ohio. Their son David, a Bluffton University student, died in the crash.
Brown and Hutchison have introduced the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act in the previous two Congresses. U.S. Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) has introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Last Congress, the bill unanimously passed out of committee with broad bipartisan support, but was held up on the floor by a single senator, never receiving a full Senate vote.
The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act is based on National Transportation Safety Board recommendations—some of which were first proposed in 1968. The bill would require:
- Safety belts and stronger seating systems to ensure occupants stay in their seats in a crash.
- Improved commercial driver training. Currently, no training is required by Federal regulation.
- Anti-ejection glazing windows to prevent passengers from being easily thrown outside the motorcoach.
- 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 that only medically qualified examiners conduct physical examinations of drivers and a medical certificate process to ensure that all certificates are valid and no unqualified operator is allowed to drive.
- Strengthened motorcoach vehicle safety inspections, including 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 cannot be tampered with by the driver.