Brown Testified Before Senate Commerce Committee, on Which Hutchison Serves as Ranking Member
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) that would overhaul tour bus safety regulations and reduce deaths and serious injuries caused by accidents.
“Simply put, this bill will save lives,” Brown said. “These safety measures are common-sense safety features that have been–and are–widely used. By equipping buses with seatbelts, stronger roofs, and safer windows, we can prevent deaths and minimize injuries. With bus ridership increasing, it’s more important than ever to pass this legislation. We need to ensure bus trips don’t turn into tragedies.”
Brown and Hutchison’s Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act would reduce the number of motorcoach crashes and related fatalities. Brown and Hutchison first introduced the legislation following a 2007 crash of a tour bus carrying 33 Bluffton University baseball players that claimed seven lives.
In March 2011, Brown testified before the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing entitled: ‘Ensuring the Safety of Our Nation's Motorcoach Passengers.” Brown was joined at the hearing by John and Joy Betts, who lost their son David in the Bluffton University 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.