When a luxury coach bus carrying 43 passengers—including 38 Long Island high school students, along with chaperones and the driver—smashed into an overpass on the Southern State Parkway at Eagle Avenue in Lakeview early last week, two young passengers suffered serious injuries, while five others had moderate injuries and 36 suffered minor injuries.
Published reports painted a horrific scene with twisted metal, glass everywhere and students, some trapped in the wreckage, screaming for help. The one miraculously missing element amidst the chaos—casualties. Somehow, some way, no parent lost their child that night.
The same, tragically, could not be said about the grim spectacle in Canada’s Saskatchewan province, when a bus carrying a junior hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer the previous Friday, killing 15 and injuring 14 others. The immense grief on display in photos and interviews with survivors and loved ones is enough to leave any person emotionally shook—especially when reflecting on just how close our own community was to a similar catastrophe.
Now with students and other passengers beginning to leave hospitals after receiving treatment for their injuries, it is time to take a close look at the driver’s conduct, the bus company’s regulations and the state’s safety measures on the parkway. No charges were levied on the driver, but he was from out-of-state and did not understand the Island’s parkway system. Therein lies the crux of the problem: our roadways are often confusing even for longtime residents, let alone charter drivers who rarely, if ever, have to deal with our low overpasses.
In fact, if you have ever driven on this island, chances are you have seen a truck hit an overpass, whether that be a low train trestle on a local road or a bridge on the parkway. Obviously posted warning signs are insufficient.
It might be time for drastic measures—better to spend millions on infrastructure than thousands on funerals.
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