We’re Number One!
Yes, Kentucky, 25 years ago, had the worse DUI accident in the nation..when a drunken driver, on the wrong side of the interstate, crashed into an old school bus, converted to church use. The fire that resulted, plus the impact, killed 27 people. I hope you have been reading and watching the stories on this.
The driver served prison time and is now out..presumably still driving. The 27 are still dead, their families and friends still suffering...and the survivors continue to relive that nightmare.
The anniversary stories cited improvements since then, and there are important ones. Buses have more and better escape exits. Aisle widths are better. Fuel tanks have been moved and are better protected from impact. Church buses are supposed to be inspected more and checked for safely (though I have my doubts the state agency charged here does it often enough or well enough in our present economy).
All well and good…BUT…are there fewer drunken drivers on our highways? I doubt it. Are there fewer people driving on suspended licenses? I doubt it. Are there fewer people driving without licenses at all? I doubt it. (On at least two occasions over several years I watched people come into a Lexington courtroom, surrender their driver’s license for various offenses, leave the courthouse, get in a car, and drive off. A recent national story told how very infrequently states are enforcing anti-texting laws…and many, many drivers admit they text while driving.
We all know better, but we do it.
DUI laws need stronger enforcement, and I am persuaded from reading too many news reports it is the judges at the heart of the problem. They are just too lenient on people. Maybe we should have a large picture of the mangled school bus from Carrollton in every courtroom where drivers appear.
Cars of people who have lost their license to drive need to be marked so enforcement people will know to check them. Maybe something like the yellow bumper NASCAR uses for rookies is what is needed...maybe, but surely something.
And why haven’t most schools insisted on seatbelts for buses? Then, when they are sold to churches, the seatbelts will go along. There were none in the Carrollton buses, the aisles were narrow, there was just one escape exist available after the crash, and it was in the rear where seats were piled with baggage ,coolers, etc..in violation of safety rules.
May a Carrollton never happen again, but Kentucky has a long way to go before the chances of that horrible event’s being repeated are slim…and none.
I'm just sayin'...