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What Government Statistics Aren't Telling You About Serious and Fatal Bus Accidents

Jim Vititoe and Vititoe Law Group are passionate about making bus travel safer through common sense safety regulations and laws. This is the first blog in a series of blogs regarding bus accidents and bus safety.

People use buses every day for a variety of transportation reasons. The size of the bus (small, medium, or large) or the type of the bus (coach, tour, or school) often depends on the purpose of travel.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, from 1975-2010, there were 1471 passenger fatalities on buses. That is an average of 42 per year. But further investigation shows that the number is higher. In 2010 the University of Michigan did a more in-depth study in accidents from 1999-2006, which found a total of 50 deaths per year. In the same period, the FMCSA statistics showed 41 deaths per year.

Whatever the statistics, the numbers are alarming and could possibly be lowered with basic safety precautions and new laws. As of this date, seat belts and safety glass (a topic for another blog) are not required in older buses. Only the driver is required to wear a seat belt. There are approximately 750 million passenger trips taken annually on motor coaches. The majority of fatalities in a bus rollover occur when passengers are ejected from the bus due to the lack of seat belts and lack of safety glass. The next highest percentage of fatalities occurs when the passenger in thrown around inside the bus without restraint.

The bipartisan Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act (MESA) was introduced in 2012 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Representative John Lewis (D-GA). This act directs DOT to implement critical NTSB recommendations that have languished and been ignored for decades to: Protect passengers in crashes by requiring basic safety systems like seatbelts, advanced window glazing, tire pressure monitoring systems, enhanced roof strength, and rollover stability systems. All new buses would have these safety measures implemented. The issue of refitting older existing buses is still up in the air.

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