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New Jersey Bus Accidents Are Part of Larger Motorcoach Safety Problem

Bus safety has been an issue in America for years. Other developed countries have required seat belts on buses for several years. In the European Union, this has been the case for five years and in Australia for 20.

Yet the U.S. has lagged behind. Even as horrific bus accidents continue to occur, the bus industry has resisted the installation of lap-and-shoulder belts that would unquestionably save lives in rollover accidents.

Efforts to improve bus safety failed last year in the Senate. But this year the issue has received renewed attention after the terrible crash in March in New York City in which 15 people were killed. Only two days after that crash, another bus crash on the New Jersey Turnpike claimed the lives of two more bus passengers.

Following these accidents, Congress once again took up the issue of requiring motor coaches to have better equipment to prevent passenger ejection in rollover accidents. There is no question that seat belts and stronger windows would save lives.

Meanwhile, bus accidents continue to happen. On August 13, for example, a Greyhound bus driver lost control of his vehicle on the Pennsylvania Turnpike about 20 miles east of Harrisburg. The bus collided with a barrier, went up an embankment, and then flipped onto its side. At least 21 people were injured and had to be taken to local hospitals.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been conducting a review of safety in the discount bus industry. Clearly there are fundamental issues affecting passenger safety on buses that need to be resolved.

Source: "Bus Overturns on Pennsylvania Turnpike," New York Times, 8-13-11

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