Fortunately, last week’s crash of a casino bus returning to New York City from Connecticut wasn’t “déjà vu all over again.” No one was killed – though dozens were injured – when an overnight tour bus collided with the center guardrail on I-95 in New Rochelle in the early hours of July 4.
This, at least, is thankfully different than the terrible bus accident in March 2011 that killed 15 people on a similar casino bus coming back to the city from Connecticut. A fatigued bus driver was eventually determined to have caused that fatal crash.
But there are enough similarities between the two accidents to raise concerns anew about a disturbing pattern of bus safety failures.
It isn’t just that both accidents involved a tour bus returning to New York City from a Connecticut casino. The underlying problem is that so many of the bus companies that offer low-rate service have a troubling history of safety violations.
Federal and state authorities took action against a number of these companies in a crackdown across the East Coast in May of this year. A total of 26 companies were closed in the crackdown.
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There are, however, still a lot of bad actors out there in the low-cost tour bus industry. Last week’s accident in New Rochelle was a painful reminder of that. The bus company involved, Star Tag, has a history of driver-fatigue safety violations. In fact, federal safety regulators have cited the company four times since March 2011.
Prompt action by state troopers kept the New Rochelle crash from being far worse. After the tour bus hit the guardrail, it veered across three lanes of traffic and hit a concrete wall. The driver either got out or was ejected, leaving the bus coasting. A state trooper maneuvered his vehicle to finally stop the bus.
Source: “Tour Bus in I-95 Crash Has Past Driver-Fatigue Violations: Feds,” NBC New York, 7-5-12