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Mike Bryant
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What Kind Of Buses Are Carrying Our Athletes?

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I’ve blogged a couple of times about the rising number of bus accidents recently in Minnesota and also about the questions of bus safety and seat belts. ESPN this past week did an excellent job of looking at the area of bus rides for NCAA athletes.

In 2007 there were 13,195 bus accidents, up from 8,555 in 2003. In those five years, 1,651 people have died in bus crashes. The study found that there were multiple reasons for these accidents that included faulty equipment, unqualified drivers and simple things like overly tired drivers.

In reviewing the ESPN "outside the lines" report there were a number of startling findings:

  • Of the 333 Division I universities that used bus companies to transport athletes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had flagged at least 85 bus companies that had a less than satisfactory overall rating or had deficient drivers, buses or management.
  • Roadside inspections within the past two years revealed logbook violations; an improperly licensed driver; inoperative or defective brakes; missing or faulty emergency exits; and thin, flat or leaking tires.
  • At least 85 Division I universities (about one third of the schools) used charter bus companies during 2007 and 2008 that have had one or more deficient federal safety scores.

It’s important that each of these schools start paying attention to who they are hiring and what the history for the companies show. There are studies which suggest that poor safety records are a way to predict what buses are most likely to be in future accidents. True or not, it is important that these college students not have their lives put at risk.