Nightly News   |  April 11, 2013

Dallas crash latest in series of motor coach accidents

Government agencies are taking notice of the nation’s bus companies, working to pull unsafe operators off the roads – in the last two months, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Organization has conducted more than 13,500 roadside inspections with state enforcement partners. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> two people were killed. dozens hospitalized after a charter bus packed with seniors headed for a casino crashed outside dallas, texas, this morning. it's the latest in a string of fatal tour bus accident. safety officials seem almost powerless to prevent them. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.

>> reporter: the call in irving, texas, was for all available ambulances. trapped inside and under an overturned motor coach , dozens of senior citizens screaming for help.

>> bodies stacked on top of each other. blood everywhere.

>> yeah.

>> just moaning, crying.

>> reporter: ernie johns survived with bad cuts and bruises.

>> people were piled everywhere, you know. thrown everywhere.

>> reporter: it happened on highway 161 not far from dfw airport . the bus hit a rubber barrier and ricocheted across two lanes of traffic into a grassy median before striking a concrete dividerer and rolling over. at least two dead. more than 40 injured.

>> you can have severe internal bleeding . one patient is in surgery because of internal bleeding .

>> reporter: the bus was operated by card call coach line taking seniors to a casino in oklahoma. the company has a good reputation. no crashes or serious violations. but it's the latest in a recent series of terrible motor coach accidents. two dead in pennsylvania, one in new york, eight killed in los angeles , nine in oregon. in a lettererer last week the d.o.t. warned the nation's bus companies there have been far too many crashes and enforcement strike teams are taking unsafe operators off the road.

>> we are trying to raise the culture of safety within the motor coach industry is so it's right there with the airline industry .

>> reporter: in 2007 government crash tests determined lap and shoulder seat belts would improve bus safety but the government still doesn't require them.

>> three-point belts have been demonstrated to provide better occupant protection. certainly side impact and roll over crashes they perform better.

>> reporter: millions of americans ride motor coaches every day. 700 million passenger trips each year. each of them covered under the same safety regulations . but federal investigators say many bus operators need to truly make safety a top priority . tom costello, nbc news, washington.