Interstate Bus Travel: Not as Safe as You Might Think

People who are afraid of flying often take buses to their destinations, thinking they will be safer. I say to them, "Think again." Airline travel gets safer every year, but travel on interstate buses gets more dangerous. That's because the government hasn't established strong regulations, and when it has, it doesn't enforce them well.

The federal government's current budget problems don’t give us much hope that bus safety will improve. Think how you would react to learn that a passenger airliner crashed, and it was found that its fuselage was poorly built, it had no fire extinguishers or seat belts, and that maintenance hadn't been done in a very long time. Furthermore, its pilot's license was suspended, and the airline wasn't even licensed to carry passengers. Those things won't be found with airlines in the U.S., but a number of them are found with terrifying frequency with interstate bus travel.

Passenger safety in cars and planes has made great strides but, although the technology exists, it hasn't kept pace in buses. Until the federal government forces manufacturers to do better, safety technology won't be incorporated in buses. Consider some of the important things that are wrong before you go by bus. Buses rarely have seatbelts. Yet, they travel the interstate highways and get into wrecks at 70 mph. Other countries required those years ago. Weak roofs are more likely to give way in accidents, especially rollovers. Poor welding and insufficient pillars between windows have long been a concern, but no regulations require better performance.

Ejection through windows is a leading cause of death in bus accidents. Despite this, ejection-resistant glazing that strengthens windows has been used by only a few of the many bus companies. Compounding these deficiencies in bus design and construction, the weak safety regulations that do exist are enforced sporadically. Think twice about going somewhere by bus if your concern is for your safety.

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