Congress OKs bus safety measure

Bill spurred by deadly bus crash involving Bluffton baseball team.

Bluffton is about 80 miles north of Dayton.

A measure written by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was included in the final version of the $120 billion highway bill that would mandate safety belts for new motor coaches, improved training for motor coach drivers and other safety measures for new motor coaches. The bill would also require a two-year study to determine whether it would be feasible to retrofit existing motor coaches on the road.

The bill could be signed by the president as soon as today, Brown said.

“We’re just elated,” said John Betts of Bryan, Ohio, whose son David died along with six others in March 2007, when their motor coach plunged off an Interstate 75 overpass in Atlanta on the way to a game in Florida. Among those who died in the crash were the driver and his wife and five members of the Bluffton baseball team.

Betts said he made a promise when he identified his son in the morgue: To work to keep this from happening to anyone else.

He teamed up with Brown in 2007, when Brown first began pushing the bill. Brown and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, reintroduced the measure again in 2009 and 2011. They had a victory in 2011, when the CEO of Greyhound, David Leach, announced his support for the bill.

Brown said the safety improvements were “long overdue.” In fact, some of his recommendations were first made by the National Transportation Safety Board in 1968.

“By equipping buses with common-sense safety measures — seatbelts, stronger roofs, and safer windows—we can help prevent deaths and minimize injuries,” Brown said. “Simply put, this bill will help save lives.”

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