COLUMN: Move Forward on tour bus safety


COLUMN: Move Forward on tour bus safety

News Democrat – It was a call John Betts – like any parent – never wanted to receive.

His son David – an athlete, musician, and pre-med student at Bluffton University – was killed in a 2007 tour bus crash that claimed seven lives. While a poorly designed exit ramp contributed to the bus crashing at full speed and flipping onto the interstate below, the tour bus that the team was riding in was ill-equipped to withstand the impact of almost any crash.

Mr. Betts has been a courageous voice for tour bus safety. The Bluffton University bus accident rocked a small town but also brought national attention to long overdue safety improvements to America’s tour buses.

Along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), I have worked for the last three years to pass the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would protect tour bus passengers, drivers, and other motorists on America’s highways.

The bill is based on recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board many years ago that have not yet been implemented. It would require strong, crush resistant roofs that can withstand rollovers. Anti-ejection windows required under this bill would prevent passengers from being easily thrown outside the bus.

Yet, a lone Washington politician has been a roadblock to making tour buses safer for travelers.

Mr. Betts met with me in Washington last week and came with a straightforward message.

“My major theme coming here to Washington is basically, ‘let’s go.’ It’s that simple,” Mr. Betts told me.

Congress cannot afford to ignore his plea. We cannot afford to put the brakes on tour bus safety.

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