WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today called for improved safety of over-the-road buses and enhanced National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations governing bus safety during a Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee hearing on improving bus safety. Senator Hutchison is a cosponsor of legislation, S. 2326, the Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act of 2008, to address bus safety nationwide. The measure would improve performance standards for passenger buses, including impact protection, rollover stability, flammability reduction, and collision avoidance technology.
“In the past few years, America has seen tragic motor coach incidents where innocent people, including children, have died in accidents which could have been prevented,” said Senator Hutchison. “These horrific accidents have demonstrated the need to make sweeping changes to the motor coaches industry. In August alone, Texas, Nevada, Mississippi, and New Jersey all had motor coach accidents resulting in deaths and injuries. Last year, Senator Brown and I introduced a bill to require important lifesaving safety technologies that will prevent the greatest causes of death and injury in bus accidents. Motor coaches are a necessary part of our passenger transportation, but they are worthless if they are not safe.”
Senator Hutchison was joined by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Hill, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Mark Rosenker, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board, Dave Kelly, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Peter Pantuso, President and CEO, American Bus Association, Jacqueline Gillian, Vice President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Stephen Forman, West Brook Bus Crash Families and John Betts, Bluffton University crash victim parent.
S. 2326, the Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act of 2008 would require:
· safety belts on all buses;
· safety technology, such as interior impact protection, rollover stability, flammability reduction, window glazing, and collision avoidance, on all buses;
· the Secretary of Transportation to inspect bus companies and bus operators and assign each carrier a safety rating at least every three years;
· the Secretary of Transportation to establish a training curriculum for drivers to be adopted by state and local governments. Any driver seeking a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) would need to attend a training program with one of these approved curricula; and
· the use of Electronic On-Board Recorders on all commercial motor vehicles, including buses and trucks.
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