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NY bus crash may have been caused by blown out tire

The latest in a series of tour bus crashes in the northeast occurred on Sunday, leaving two passengers dead and three injured. The bus involved in the crash was operated by Bedore Tours of North Tonawanda. At the time of the crash, the bus was carrying 37 tourists from India to Niagra Falls from Washington D.C.

New York State Police said the bus crashed on Interstate 390 in Avoca, about 55 miles southeast of Rochester. A tire blowout, according to a preliminary report, may have been the cause of the accident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Sunday's accident comes in the wake of several previous accidents in the region. In late June, a tour bus driver died and several passengers were injured in a crash involving a tractor trailer. The tour bus had been traveling from Kentucky to New Jersey when it rear-ended a semi east of Pittsburgh on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

In May, an accident in Virginia left four passengers dead when a Sky Express bus crashed after the bus driver had fallen asleep. The company operating that bus was subsequently found to have multiple safety violations, including fatigued driving.

Two accidents before that occurred in March. In one, 15 passengers were killed when a bus coming back from a casino in Connecticut crashed on a highway in New York City. Only two days later, another bus crashed in New Jersey, killing the driver and a passenger.

Federal regulators, seeking to respond to the series of accidents, have been attempting to come up with ways to improve safe practices in the tour bus industry. Recently, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood put an end to a common practice in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of granting 10-day extension periods to companies found to be in serious violations of safety regulations. Such extensions, which are meant to give companies time to correct their mistakes and thus avoid a shutdown, were felt to be too lenient on companies engaging in unsafe practices.

Source: Reuters, "Tire blowout eyed in latest fatal New York tour bus crash," Dan Wiessner, 18 July 2011.

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