New bill could include bus safety measures
New bus safety provisions are expected to be included in the impending surface transportation bill.
According to Politico.com, the long-term legislation, set to be voted on by the end of the year, will increase bus safety. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-FL) would not give specifics of what could be in the bill, but currently oversight of curbside carriers and standardized safety measures like reinforced roofs and seat belts have been debated.
Stephen A. Keppler, the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration tells BUSRide that a provision could be inserted in the bill that would allow law enforcement to conduct random en route inspections of all buses. Currently, law enforcement can only stop a bus if there is an imminent hazard present, such as speeding, reckless driving or a flat tire.
In years past various bills have been introduced by lawmakers attempting to make the bus industry safer. Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was an original cosponsor of H.R. 1135, the Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety (BUSES) Act of 2009. That bill was reintroduced this year. Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, a Republican, was the other original cosponsor of the BUSES Act.
Meanwhile, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison introduced the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011 in hopes of strengthening bus safety and driver training. Hutchison and Brown originally introduced legislation following the 2007 crash of a bus carrying the Bluffton University (Ohio) baseball team that killed five players.
In April, Johnson told BUSRide the effort to crack down on rogue carriers is improving.
“It’s not what it should be, and I think a lot of it has to do with we have vehicles that are not based in the U.S.” Johnson said. “We are a border state, and it’s very easy for vehicle traffic to get back and forth to Mexico. There are a lot of companies that incorporate into three or four different names. They have an accident, go out of business, and then reincorporate by another name. That’s why it’s so important that we focus on safety regulations.”