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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Bus Safety Still Needs Improvement

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Following the deadly accident in which a FedEx truck veered across a California interstate median slamming head-on into a bus full of students, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing for changes to improve the safety of passengers on buses.

The bus was carrying 44 students from Southern California for a free tour of Humboldt State University. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators determined the truck driver losing control was the probable cause of the crash, but they couldn’t conclude why. Investigators determined that dozens of students struggled to escape the burning, smoke-filled bus because of poorly labeled exits and no safety instructions as required by the bus company’s policy. More than half of the students said they did not know which windows were designated as emergency exits. Those who climbed out had to drop 7 feet. Nine people were killed at the scene of the crash. One victim was airlifted to the hospital with severe burns, but later died. Eight of the victims were students, along with the drivers of the bus and the truck.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that poorly labeled emergency exits and the lack of safety instructions required by bus company policy contributed to the chaos and injuries.

To prevent bus accidents, safety oversight has to improve. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the NHTSA is urging that federal regulators require:

  • A secondary doors as emergency exits on new bus designs.
  • A lit path to emergency exits after crashes.
  • A black box-style data recorder.
  • More rigorous standards for non-flammable materials inside buses.
  • Pre-trip safety briefings about the location and operation of emergency exits, with printed materials in seatback pockets.

Unfortunately, proposals are easy to make, but not as easy implement. The NTSB says, for decades, it has urged for stricter rules making buses as safe for passengers as planes, but it’s up to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to enact them. With recent events like this tragic bus accident, safety is essential. The legislation most likely won’t come up for hearings until next year because bill deadlines have passed.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.