Tour Bus Crashes in Southern Minnesota, Killing Two

In the afternoon of November 18, 2009, a Strain Bus Line Motor Coach Tours bus crashed at Interstate 90 in southern Minnesota, west of Austin. State officials have so far reported two fatalities and 21 people have been injured. Rescuers and investigators continued to work at the crash scene late into the evening.

According to authorities, the bus was headed eastbound on the southern Minnesota Interstate when it suddenly swerved into the westbound lanes and flipped over.

According to a Strain Bus company employee, based in Rochester, MN, the tour busses operate every Wednesday from Rochester to Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, Iowa. It appears the bus was returning from the casino, which is about 30 miles southeast of Austin, authorities said.

The Associated Press has reported that Strain Tours, aka Bold Lines Inc., is a small operation with only six drivers and four buses. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Web site, (type in “Strain Tours”) Strain Tours has not had an accident in the past 24 months.

In 2002, the company had to pay a fine regarding drug testing for its drivers, It also paid a fine to settle a case regarding driver duty times and record keeping.

On November 16, 2009, just two days before this crash, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announced the DOT’s Motorcoach Safety Action Plan which would require all motorcoaches to have seat belts and enhanced roof strength. The plan also addresses the need for increased use of new technologies which will address driver distractions, rules on texting, limited cell phone use, electronic on-board recording devices and better ways to monitor and improve bus driver fatigue.