Fatal bus accidents renew interest in safety bill

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Fatal bus accidents renew interest in safety bill

AP – Deadly bus crashes over the past decade have claimed dozens of lives, including college baseball players in Atlanta, Vietnamese Catholics in Texas, skiers in Utah and, this month, gamblers returning to New York’s Chinatown.

The New York accident, which killed 15 passengers and critically injured several others, as well as recent bus accidents in New Hampshire and New Jersey have rekindled interest in bipartisan legislation that would require regulators to act on longstanding bus safety recommendations.

A Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee was holding a hearing on the bill Wednesday. Senators were expected to press Transportation Department officials to explain their slow progress implementing bus safety recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board, some of which have lingered for more than a decade.

The recommendations, directed at large buses known as motor coaches, include requiring seatbelts for all passengers and electric onboard recorders that keep track of how many hours a driver has been behind the wheel.

The NTSB also has urged that buses have stronger roofs that aren’t easily crushed or sheared off to prevent passengers from being ejected in a rollover and to ensure they have enough space inside to survive. The board wants bus windows to be glazed using new, more advanced methods so they hold together even when shattered. And, the board wants windows and exits that are easier for passengers to open.

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