Lautenberg urges U.S. to help inform schools about bus safety

Posted: March 21, 2013

After a Pennsylvania Turnpike bus crash that killed the coach of a college lacrosse team and her unborn son, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) has urged that schools be provided more safety information about buses hired to carry sports teams.

"While some colleges and universities may have policies on providing safe transportation, most don't have bus-safety experts," Lautenberg wrote Tuesday to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and NCAA president Mark Emmert. "As a result, these institutions may not be aware of what information to look for when selecting a bus company or how to find information on their safety ratings."

Lautenberg, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on surface transportation, which oversees bus safety, said a 2009 survey of NCAA Division I colleges found that "at least a quarter of the schools were using bus companies that had less than a satisfactory rating, and many of the schools were unaware of the ratings."

The bus crash Saturday killed Kristina Quigley, coach of the Seton Hill University women's lacrosse team, and bus driver Anthony Guaetta, 61, of Johnstown, Pa. Quigley, 30, of Greensburg, Pa., was about six months pregnant.

The crash occurred on the turnpike as the team was en route to Millersville University for an afternoon game.

The cause remains under investigation, and it is not clear that additional safety information would have prevented the crash.

The bus operator, Mlaker Charter & Tours of Davidsville, Pa., was up to date on inspections, which include bus and driver safety checks, said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for the state Public Utility Commission.

In his letter, Lautenberg cited other crashes involving buses transporting sports teams, including a 2007 crash in Georgia that killed five members of the Bluffton (Ohio) University baseball team, and a crash last month north of Boston that injured several members of the University of Maine women's basketball team.

"For hundreds of thousands of student-athletes, spending countless hours on bus trips is a commonplace occurrence," Lautenberg wrote. "We must remain vigilant to ensure that only the safest bus companies are carrying our students, and I urge you to work together to devise strategies to help colleges make well-informed decisions on transportation safety."

The Department of Transportation said it had received Lautenberg's letter and would respond soon.


Contact Paul Nussbaum

at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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