Every day, Americans take more than 1.5 million motorcoach trips, and parents sending their children on field trips or on the road to away games shouldn’t have to worry the bus they’re riding isn’t safe. That’s why I’m continuing to press the Department of Transportation to improve motorcoach safety following the Jan. 5 bus crash that killed five people, including a 9-year-old from Dayton and a graduate of The Ohio State University.
Sadly, we know that crash isn’t an isolated incident. Almost 13 years ago, a tragic accident with a motorcoach in Georgia killed seven people, including five members of Ohio’s Bluffton University baseball team. After that terrible crash, I worked with consumer advocates, Congressman John Lewis, Republican Senator Kay Bailey-Hutchison, and many brave families whose loved ones were killed in motorcoach crashes like that one. Together, we passed the nation’s first comprehensive motorcoach safety law, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, in 2012.
That law has saved lives. It required safety belts and stronger seating systems, anti-ejection glazing windows to prevent passengers from being easily thrown outside the motorcoach, and strong, crush-resistant roofs that withstand rollovers.
But eight years later, the Department of Transportation still hasn’t fully implemented the bill.
The Department needs to ensure these vehicles are safer by enacting rules to improve roof strength, require safety measures to prevent people from being thrown from the coach in a crash, and impose fire prevention standards. They should also revisit the decision not to require older buses to be retrofitted with seatbelts.
The Department of Transportation needs to stop dragging its feet and stop putting students and other passengers at risk – it’s their job to make sure Ohioans are safe on the road.
Democrat Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the U.S. Senate.