A devastating bus accident in New York City that killed 15 passengers and injured 17 has led to renewed efforts to implement more bus safety measures and driver training.
There are conflicting accounts of how the bus accident happened. The bus driver claimed that he had to swerve to avoid a tractor-trailer before losing control of the bus and that the two vehicles may have collided. According to accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), skid marks left by the bus indicated it struck the guardrail on the right side of Interstate 95 at least three times while traveling 450 feet. The bus then struck a signpost that cut through the bus.
The driver of the tractor-trailer denied making any contact with the bus. Further, some bus passengers have said that the bus driver appeared to have fallen asleep and that they felt the bus hit rumble strips before the crash. The rumble strips are on the shoulder of the roadway and are meant to alert a driver whose vehicle has drifted off the road.
Many buses have “black boxes,” called an engine control module, similar to what planes carry, that indicate the vehicle’s speed and other data that may shed more light on how the accident occurred. There was also a forward-facing camera that NTSB investigators hope may provide additional details. All are standard investigatory procedures following accidents with fatalities and serious injuries.
Along with interviewing passengers and drivers and reviewing any camera images and data from the black box device, investigators will examine the bus for brake and steering problems. Since some passengers felt the driver may have dozed, the investigators will be examining the bus’s logs and the company’s records and training program, if any.
At a U.S. Senate hearing, members again called for legislation that would require seat belts on buses. Similar legislation stalled back in 2007. They also called for a national registry to track the records of all drivers and recommended that technology such as adaptive cruise control and collision warning systems be installed on commercial buses.
Some senators also expressed concern that the Transportation Department was being too slow in adopting their recommendations.
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