By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The bus industry continues to oppose proposed safety features on buses, which experts say are proven to protect bus passengers.

In 2014, 10 people died when a FedEx truck crossed a median on I-5 near Orland, and struck a tour bus of students on a college visit.

Two years, and another deadly crash later–bus companies are still not required to have seat belts.

“There’s no question that seatbelts can help prevent injury and crashes,” says Attorney Jason Sigel.

His firm has litigated more than two-dozen bus crash cases in the last 20 years. He says for years, bus companies have fought efforts to require safety measures because of the expense to retrofit buses.

“So I think it’s incumbent not only on the government to make them but for these companies to acknowledge the scientific fact that seat belts save lives,” says Sigel.

Tuesday’s bus crash near Fresno, that killed four people when a charter bus swerved into a highway sign…is renewing the push for Senate Bill 247, introduced after the Orland bus crash.

It requires buses be equipped with lap-shoulder seatbelts, fire proof seats, and windows that stay open–for passengers trying to escape, like they did in Orland.

Supporters are even calling for safety briefings, like those in commercial airplanes prior to departure.

Why has it stalled?

“The bus industry has influence in the legislature,” says Rosemary Shahan.

Rosemary Shahan is the President of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. She admits it’s an uphill battle against an industry that operates thousands of buses across the state.

Will the most recent crash give lawmakers the leverage to push it through?

“I guess that remains to be seen,” says Shahan.

CBS13 has reached out to several bus companies opposing the bill, including the California Bus Association. All have declined to comment.

Lawmakers have until the end of the month to approve or reject the bill.


Leave a Reply