Yesterday, an Americanos USA bus overturned on I-37 near San Antonio, killing 62 year old Christina Lozano Campos and 27 year old Efrain Dominguez-Valenzuela and injuring 40 more. Authorities now suspect that a broken drive shaft may be to blame for the wreck.
The wreck is reminiscent of the horrific 2008 bus crash in Sherman that killed fifteen passengers, most from a Houston-area church. And earlier this month, a bus crash near Phoenix killed six passengers.
There should be a lot of discussion about bus safety in the wake of these wrecks. One thing that I think should be considered is the mandatory use of seat belts on commercial buses. The Texas legislature passed a law requiring that all school buses purchased after September 1, 2010 and all charter buses used to transport Texas schoolchildren must be equipped with safety belts by Sept. 1, 2011. But the use of seat belts still lags behind in typical charter buses. In 2007, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and others introduced the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act that is designed to increase safety for bus riders.
The bill didn’t get very far, but in 2009, Hutchison and others introduced the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2009, which would not only require seat belts in buses, but also require stronger roof design and glazed windows to minimize the risk of passenger ejection (which almost guarantees death in any rollover case). In late December, the bill was approved in its Senate committee and proceeds to the floor of the senate.
If there is ay good that is going to come from these tragedies, it is increased safety for future motorists. If you’d like to encourage your legislators to act on the currently pending bill, the MotorCoachSafetyNow website has a number of tips. Hopefully, the industry will adopt these safety measures and Ms. Campos and Ms. Dominguez-Valenzuela will not have died in vain.