How to prevent fatal bus crashes

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How to prevent fatal bus crashes

Washington Post – In the pre-dawn hours of a summer morning, a bus traveling from New York to Pittsburgh traveled off the right side of the roadway near Burnt Cabins, Pa., where it struck the back of a parked tractor-trailer. Pushed forward, the tractor-trailer hit the side of another parked truck. The bus driver and six passengers were killed; 16 bus passengers and the two occupants of the first truck were injured.

At the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), we identified three safety issues in this accident: operator fatigue, bus crashworthiness and the inadequate federal oversight of bus operators.

That crash occurred on June 20, 1998.

Thirteen summers later, on another pre-dawn morning, a bus bound for New York City crashed near Doswell, Va., killing four passengers and injuring several others. Last month’s crash followed the horrific bus rollover in the Bronx in March that killed 15 people and injured 18 more. Two days after that tragedy came two more bus crashes, a fatal accident in New Jersey killing two people and a crash in New Hampshire that injured all 25 onboard. The NTSB is investigating all of these crashes.

Since the 1998 crash, the NTSB has launched 36 investigations into bus accidents. Again and again, we see the same failings: a fatigued driver, poor occupant protection in a crash and marginal operators that are put out of service only after a fatal accident.

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