Bus and train accidents are not in the news very often. They are more rare than accidents involving passenger cars. But when these kinds of accidents do happen, they can be completely devastating. One of the reasons for that devastation is the lack of standard safety features that are commonly seen in cars and planes. These features include seat belts in both planes and cars, and the smaller windows and latching, overhead storage bins that are found in airplanes.
Why aren't these features used?
For more than four decades, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been making recommendations for buses and trains to add safety features. These recommendations have largely been ignored by those industries. Because these recommendations are not laws, the NTSB cannot force companies like Greyhound and Amtrak to adopt them. However, these features have the potential to save lives.
Deaths and injuries could be reduced
There were forty-four people killed in bus accidents in 2017, and 21 people died in commuter and Amtrak trains in 2017 and 2018 combined. These numbers may seem small, but there were also thousands of people who were injured in crashes, derailments, and other accidents over that same period of time. According to those who have worked for the NTSB, many of the people who were killed could have been saved with the right safety measures.
Should buses and trains require seat belts?
Right now, buses don't have seat belts in them in most cases. Amtrak trains don't have restraint systems, either. People are free to get up and walk around the train while it is in motion, and on the long-distance routes people sleep on the train, as well. Some of these people sleep in their seats in the coach car, while those who have roomettes or private bedrooms have small beds they use overnight.
Windows and storage compartments also matter
The small windows that are used on air planes are much safer than the larger windows in buses and trains. These windows can pop out in a collision or derailment, and that could result in passengers being ejected. Baggage from open storage compartments is also tossed around the bus or the railcar, and can collide with passengers. In many cases, these passengers also collide with one another.
In the future, seat belts and other changes to railcars and buses could have the potential to save lives and reduce injuries.