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Tour Bus Safety Action Plan – Too Late for Tour Bus Crash in Austin, Minnesota

The U.S. Department of Transportation released an action plan to improve motorcoach safety across the board nationwide on Monday, November 16. That was not in time to help the occupants of the Strain Bus Lines Motorcoach.

The Strain Bus Lines Motorcoach was involved in a crash and rollover on I-90 near Austin, Minnesota on November 18th. Capt. Matt Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol reported that it was a “tragic accident because everyone on the bus was either injured or killed.” In addition, Capt. Langer reported that commercial vehicle inspectors and reconstruction specialists would be on the scene examining the evidence of the crash. The cause of the accident will probably take weeks to determine. According to some news sources, there is the possibility that the driver of the bus, Ed Erickson, may have suffered a ruptured aneurysm in his chest and lost consciousness before the crash.

The FMCSA Action Plan

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the bus and truck safety Agency for interstate travel and is part of the Department of Transportation. Their new action plan encompasses addressing the major issues in transportation safety:

  • Driver fatigue
    • Requiring electronic on-board recording devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers’ duty hours
  • Driver inattention
    • Prohibit texting
    • Limit the use of cellular telephones
  • Vehicle rollover
    • Establishment of performance requirements for enhanced roof strength, fire safety, and emergency egress
    • Electronic stability control to prevent rollovers
  • Occupant ejections
    • Requiring the installation of seat belts
  • Unsafe carriers
    • Enhanced oversight of unsafe carriers

Motorcoach travel is comparatively safe in the United States. Approximately 750 million passengers ride annually with an average of 19 occupant fatalities in crashes, according to data collected by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “We are committed to making sure that bus travelers reach their destinations safely,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These improvements will not only help reduce the number of motorcoach crashes, it will also help save lives and reduce injuries.”

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