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Bus Accidents Underscore Need For Safety Improvements

Last week, a Megabus crashed into a bridge support, injuring at least 33 and killing one. Yesterday afternoon, a second Megabus accident claimed the life of a 76-year-old West Loop resident. These accidents shine a spotlight on recent efforts to improve bus safety for occupants and for everyone who shares the road with buses.

The National Transportation Safety Board's 2012 Most Wanted List highlighted bus occupant safety as among the most critical areas of focus to reduce transportation accidents and save lives. The NTSB report concerning bus safety identified motorcoaches as being relatively safe in terms of the frequency of highway accidents in which they are involved. The recommendations focused primarily on creating a more protective seating environment for passengers. The suggested changes included adopting standards for roof strength, window glazing and occupant protection that would reduce injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash.

While the most recent Megabus accident involved a driver failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the incident from last week fits neatly into what the NTSB was addressing. The creation of government standards could help passengers remain inside buses, and in the proper seating position, in the event of a crash. Injuries and fatalities increase dramatically when passengers are ejected from vehicles or are thrown around inside the vehicle.

According to the NTSB, 750 million passengers ride motorcoaches every year. With each vehicle carrying numerous passengers, a single accident has the potential for a catastrophic loss of life. Hopefully the recent Megabus incidents and the NTSB focus on bus safety will help reduce future accidents and improve the situation for everyone.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Woman struck, killed by Megabus 'a favorite in the neighborhood'," by Ellen Jean Hirst, 8 August 2012

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