Monday, August 27, 2012

Bus Safety and Wheelchair Lifts

Here is an example of why laws not only need to exist, but must be ENFORCED, by our government.

On Sunday, August 19, 2012 I had the scare of my life on a wheelchair accessible school bus that shouldn't have been on the road. The emergency brake didn't work, there was no hook for the wheelchair accessible door to hold it open, so it kept banging against me, and there was no interlocking system between the bus brakes and the lift. There were also serious safety issues with how the bus driver parked that bus.

What happened was, when the bus came to pick us up it parked on a very steep hill with the front of the bus facing up hill. It was also parked on a piece of the hill where the road was slanted heavily to the curb side. This is a no-no when using a wheelchair lift because, when there is weight on it, it will tip the bus to the side even further. The lift shouldn't even work if the bus is tipped too much to one side because a wheelchair is at risk of sliding off it, but it was. The driver then lowered the lift onto the grass. She said she couldn't pull forward because there were too many parked cars in the way.

The bus was packed full of people, all waiting for me, so I felt rushed and stupidly decided to get on it. When I backed onto the lift I immediately went into a backwards wheelie. I threw my body weight forward and then I grabbed the side arm to hold myself upright. The bus driver then raised the lift. The minute she got the lift raised off the ground the bus started to roll backwards down the hill. All I could think of was the lift hitting a telephone pole and taking out both me and the lift.

The driver dropped the controls, ran, jumped into the bus, and jammed on the brakes. Her daughter was then assigned the task of sitting in the driver’s seat and jamming her foot down firmly on the brake while her mother came back and continued raising the lift to get me inside.

As the lift was raised, the weight of me on it, combined with the sideways slant of the bus, tipped the outermost part downwards and I started to slide off it. I had to turn my chair on and keep throttling the chair backwards toward the bus, in order to keep from sliding off it.

I have never been so scared in my life. That bus should never be on the road with no interlocking system between the lift and the brakes, a failed emergency brake, and for the lift operating at all, when the bus was parked on such a slant. That bus would have failed a safety inspection. As for the driver, she should lose her job over parking the bus on such a slant and not abiding by safety laws regarding parking the bus, inspecting the lift, the brakes, etc.

My life is in the hands of these incompetents... It's scary as hell.

The outcome of this, as I learned a few days later, was that the bus was taken into the shop and it was determined that the emergency brake was defective. The cable was stretched to its limit and, when the shop tried to fix it, the whole cable snapped. Now the entire cable has been replaced.

When I told the others how scared I was and how many infractions took place in that incident, the people I was with wanted me to forgive the bus driver because she didn't own the bus. No one would tell me the contact info for the bus company, what city it was from, or anything. In order to keep the peace, I sucked down the fear, and did nothing. It at least helped to know the cable was replaced and the driver had at least done part of her job right by applying it.

I'm still not happy with my fear being dismissed and minimized over the fear expressed by the bus driver. But now she's considered to be a hero for jumping into the moving bus to save me..... yeah right.

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1 comment:

Maddie Miller said...

I'm so glad that I finally had a platform lift fitted in my house. it has helped me so much with my freedom and I just can't believe how easy it is to use. I don't know how i went so long without one.