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Managing Coaches

by on July 21, 2011

Never letting a tragedy go to waste is a corollary of Rahm Emanuel’s infamous remark concerning crises. It’s a maxim for the sort of politicians who seize upon bus crashes as an opportunity to push more government into your life.

Accident-induced suffering isn’t enough. For example, Greyhound terminal-classy Chuck Schumer is convinced that extra regulations would have stopped a tire blowout:

In light of a fatal bus crash in the Southern Tier on Sunday, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer renewed his push for legislation to strengthen bus safety and driver training, while continuing his pursuit of a public bus-safety rating system for potential riders to reduce the number of low-fare bus crashes and related fatalities.

The legislation that Schumer supports would require the Secretary of Transportation to devise new standards for tire tests, as well as passenger safety belts on all busses.

Schumer seems to operate on the principle that it’s possible to prevent all accidents and keep anyone from getting hurt ever:

Sunday’s bus crash occurred on Interstate 390 in Steuben County, killing two individuals and injuring 35 others. The Bedore Tours bus was headed from Washington D.C. to Niagara Falls, and preliminary reports indicate that a tire blew out on the bus, causing the driver to lose control.

Yes, he really thinks he can combat a burst tire via federal power. The promise of even more interference for your own good is to be expected from a prominent figure in a party that thinks it can deem that solar power and high-speed rail work well:

Schumer notes that the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which Schumer strongly supports, includes a section of regulations for improved occupant protection and motor coach crash avoidance pertaining to tire safety standards.

And he’s only started yapping. Pack a lunch, and try not to choke when you sigh about what he says:

“This news of yet another fatal bus crash in New York is a stark reminder that we need to improve bus safety as quickly as possible, and I am going to work as hard as I can to pass legislation that will do exactly that,” said Schumer. “We need to pass comprehensive safety legislation that includes tire safety standards to slow this growing epidemic of crashes. I will also continue my push for a letter grade safety rating system so passengers know the safety ratings of bus carriers before they buy tickets. I won’t rest until we get to the bottom of what happened in this crash, and put in place the necessary safeguards to make commercial buses as safe as they possibly can be.”

If you think Chuck Nasty has something better to do than investigate a bus crash, you haven’t tracked his career closely. His sad assumption that we can fully tame risk typifies a life dedicated to thinking Washington can solve anything.

Life may be fraught with hazards. But that unequivocally doesn’t mean that we need Schumer’s help minimizing risk.

For one, he refuses accept that companies with a legacy of danger don’t stay in business for too long. Um, most people aren’t going to use the services of a bus company that frequently crashes. They could also refuse to patronize a bus operator that doesn’t submit to an independent safety rating system if that’s important to them.

And there’s already a de facto regulatory agency: it’s called the media. Reports about accidents are of great service to informed customers who never forget the name of negligent businesses. Watching the evening news costs us much less than yet another couple binders full of federal mandates.

Those same wise shoppers will naturally gravitate toward transportation concerns that offer enhanced safety features. Informing oneself is far preferable to the alternative, namely letting oneself be lulled into trusting that anything with a government permit attached will be safe.

It’s bad enough that Schumer is essentially assuming that most companies act recklessly without governmental supervision, not to mention that he treats anecdotes about bus crashes as evidence of an epidemic. But it’s even worse that he thinks we can’t exercise enough wisdom to choose a transit provider by ourselves. By percentage, we should feel more secure on any bus than we should with Schumer even tangentially involved in supervising our safety.

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