Millions of people visit Utah’s five national parks every year. Last year, about 87,000 people from China visited Utah, making them the fastest-growing group of Utah tourists, according to state data.
More than half of visitors from China travel on tour buses, based off information from the Utah Office of Tourism.
Recently, four Chinese tourists were killed in a tour bus crash outside Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park that left at least a dozen others with critical injuries.
Thirty-one people, including the driver, were on the bus when it went off Route 12, rolled once, and landed on a guardrail.
Three women and one man perished in the crash.
Not everyone was wearing a seatbelt, as is common in tour buses. Investigations indicate that the driver drifted off the road and then steered too hard to the left trying to correct course.
The vehicle, which had been headed eastbound toward Bryce Canyon, rolled but ended up wheels-down when it hit the guardrail.
The driver is an American citizen, and was talking with investigators. He didn’t appear to be intoxicated.
The reality is, even if you don’t use a bus or train on a regular basis, chances are you probably use them when traveling on a tour, like the folks from China.
With that being said, I want to share with you some safety tips when traveling on mass transit.
We all too often hear stories of major accidents involving trains or buses, so you should make safety a top priority when traveling this way.
Don’t be cheap. When booking a bus tour, or ticket, going with the cheapest option is not necessarily the safest option.
My point is, when you show up to board the bus, you should pay attention and think to yourself, does it look safe and decently maintained?
For example, are the tires bald? Does the bus have a weird sound coming from the engine? I realize you may not be a mechanic, but pay attention to signs that the bus is road worthy.
Sit in the middle aisle seat. The further back you sit, the bumpier the ride typically is. However, if you sit too close to the front, you might feel like you are on a rollercoaster. Most importantly, the middle is generally safer.
The safest seat is an aisle seat in the middle. If an accident occurred, the chance of serious injury would be minimized since most accidents involve head-on collisions or rear-end accidents.
Check the route. Check local travel advisories, especially when taking mass transit overseas. You want to make sure there haven’t been incidents where robberies and/or accidents are common.
Even though you aren’t the driver, you should be aware of weather conditions so you are prepared in the event you become stranded.
The thing is, if there have been any reports of dangerous encounters you may want to opt for another route or restrict your travel to during the daytime.
Stay in your seat as much as possible. The last place you want to be is in the bathroom, or in the café car, when there is an accident. For this reason, you want to stay in your seat as much as you can.
In other words, I wouldn’t suggest moving around to get a better view or to take pictures.
If equipped, you should keep your seatbelt on at all times when you are seated. Unfortunately, many deaths occur in mass transit when people are thrown on impact.
Next time you are planning a trip, or simply using mass transit in your hometown, remember these safety considerations that could potentially keep you safe during an accident.