The public is not receiving the critical facts in multiple-fatality bus crashes that continue to exhibit obvious deficiencies in roadways and bus crashworthiness. This is clearly exemplified in the latest crash at Utah’s Bryce Canyon on Friday morning, September 20, 2019.
The photo, shown below, provides the clear fact that the bus rolled and slid on its side along the flat road surface and the only obstruction it encountered was the roadside guard rail. But look at the massive extent of intrusion of the bus roof into its occupant compartment. That is simply and clearly not acceptable.
When a vehicle rolls over on a level surface the rate of deceleration it experiences is about half a “g”. This rate is lower than what would be experienced if a driver applied maximum braking and slid to a stop. Would you expect multiple fatalities to persons sitting in a vehicle during maximum braking? Clearly not. So why should we expect multiple fatalities in this bus crash which likely sustained a deceleration lower than from maximum braking? Clearly and obviously the key issue is the collapse of the bus roof into the occupant compartment. A collapse that occurred during a simple rollover which should have resulted in minimal force to the bus structure. How much more obvious need the problem be before someone reports and accepts this fact?
As is typical, the details of how the fatalities occurred remain hidden. So it is possible that some occupants of the bus my have been ejected. That is a crucial shortcoming of bus passenger transportation in that seat-belt use for adults is critical to their survival. Although restraint use for children is just as vital, unsupervised children placed in “adult” seat-belts run the additional danger of sustaining abdominal injuries and thus this needs additional discussion.
But regardless of the restraint or seat-belt issue, how can we deem it acceptable that persons who might be properly restrained in their seats, are exposed to the completely unacceptable crush of the roof into where they are seated? This is not a monstrously, massive deceleration into a rock wall. It is a rollover that occurs over many seconds, during which the bus should be slowly reducing its speed and causing minimal forces on the properly restrained occupants inside. This result is simply appalling in the needless death that has been inflicted on innocent road users.