Improving Motorcoach Safety

By Debbie Hersman

Today, the NTSB announced that it will hold a Board meeting on June 5 to determine the probable cause of the March 12, 2011, bus crash on I-95 in the Bronx.

This accident happened early in the morning when the bus was returning to New York City from a Connecticut casino. It departed the travel lanes to the right, crossed over a paved shoulder, and struck a roadside barrier. The bus then traveled nearly 500 feet while rolling over until colliding with a highway signpost. The impact drove the pole through the bus’s windshield, severing the roof panel from the body for nearly the length of the bus. Fifteen people were killed and 18 more were injured.

In the United States, buses carry about 750 million passengers safely each year. That’s more passengers than the U.S. airlines. Although buses are one of the safest forms of intercity transportation, terrible accidents occasionally happen, which is why bus occupant safety is one of the 10 items on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List. For some time now, we have called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find ways to keep bus passengers safer. Our recommendations include developing standards to increase window glazing and roof strength, improving seating compartments to keep passengers protected and in their seats, and improving window emergency exits on buses.

We continue to be a nation on the move and our challenge is to implement more initiatives to improve bus travel to reach our common goal that everyone gets where they’re going — safely.

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