The New York Roadway Disaster
Twenty people were killed this past weekend when a “stretch limo” type vehicle crossed a T-intersection, striking cars and trees.
My work has me riding in all manner of commercial vehicles and I have learned they are not equal where safety is concerned.
It’s crucial to be informed, to pay attention and to be properly assertive.
Large motor coaches and school buses have rigorous federal safety requirements and are likely to stand up well to many accident scenarios by remaining intact in a rollover or serious impact.
Few of the smaller specialty buses, limos and vans are required to meet federal safety regulations, so you are riding in a sardine can which is flimsy at best.
A side impact or rollover will be devastating.
These 20- and 30-passenger buses have become quite common, often they do not have seatbelts, either.
(Think the kind of smaller shuttle bus you ride at the airport.)
Fifteen-passenger vans are next on the hit list, they may have seatbelts but offer little side impact or rollover safety.
Once you step aboard, you are totally dependent on the driver.
I work with drivers who are absolute professionals all the way down to some who give me great pause.
I will report a driver who is on the smartphone texting or otherwise acting recklessly.
(I once had a driver of a large motor coach texting as they headed northbound on the George Washington Parkway, a four-lane road with no barrier or median–never again.)
My own internal matrix is child safety is always paramount, low speed stupid driving (+/- 15 MPH) is tolerable, above that, I will intervene for my own personal safety.
Distracted driving and fatigued drivers are a major problem.
Keep an eye on your driver and speak up if you have to.
Locate the fire extinguisher, you might need it.
Find the emergency exits, they may be roof hatches or pop-out windows.
If you are traveling with kids, space the adults out to be available for a quick evacuation.
If you are on a motor coach, be aware that the pop-out windows are hinged at the top and do not stay open, you have to push and hold them out to exit and it’s about a 7-foot drop to the ground.
If you use the roof hatch, it can be up to a 12-foot drop to the ground.
That’s the scenario if the coach remained upright; now, get your head around the scenario if it is on its side or roof.
Things can get complicated fast.
If you are going on a long distance trip, insist that the driver give a safety briefing.
Consider inquiring about driver rest breaks and relief drivers: be informed.
If you are with a group, tell them that in the event of a serious accident to exit quickly and to move away from the vehicle, out of traffic and to stay as a group.
Not all motor coach companies are equal. Use this tool to research the company and the driver.
Stay safe by being informed and proactive.