Bus Accidents: April 2009 Archives

April 24, 2009

Danger of Injury to South Florida Bus Riders

Florida residents are no strangers to bus accident injuries whether they occur on interstate motor coaches, school buses, or city buses.  Just yesterday, a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy collided with a school bus transporting children from West Glades Middle School in Parkland.  The deputy and two children were taken to the hospital for evaluation according to reports.  This accident and numerous other bus accidents throughout South Florida underscore the necessity for improved safety features and stronger regulation in the bus industry.

Glaringly absent from almost all buses are seat belts.  Although seat belts have been standard mandatory equipment in automobiles for years, they are still not required safety equipment in all buses.  Seat belts help prevent injury by performing two functions of crashworthiness: restraint of the occupants and prevention of ejection.  Despite their large size, bus collisions and rollovers transfer a great deal of energy to the passengers causing them to be ejected from the passenger compartment or slammed against interior surfaces.  The implementation of seat belts on buses would help prevent injuries by restraining the rider within their seat, but critics say such implementation would increase bus weight and not be cost-effective.

A less obvious danger, however, lies in the roofs above the riders' heads.  In order to increase passenger comfort, bus windows are being made larger and larger.  These large windows contribute to decreasing the integrity of the roof and the survival space.  When these large windows are not made of ejection-resistant glazed glass, the passenger compartment is compromised and passengers are more susceptible to being ejected through a larger area.

These short-comings can all be correct by readily available technology.  However, preventable bus accident injuries will continue to occur unless strict regulations are in place and enforced.  There is proposed legislation to help correct some of these shortcomings such as the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Acts of 2009 which seeks to improve passenger protections and increase driver training and credentialing.

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