CONWAY Coast RTA’s new general manager is planning a defensive driving course for the transit’s drivers after four crashes were reported in June and July.
Brian Piascik, Coast’s chief executive officer, called the crashes a “rash,” compared to a five-crash total in all of fiscal year 2014-2015.
“We are going to try and get some defensive driving courses in for our drivers, just a refresher course more than anything else,” Piascik said. “It’s just to reinforce some of the highlights of defensive driving.”
The announcement comes as Coast released the on-board video recordings Thursday of the June 16 bus crash on U.S. 501 near Robert Grissom Parkway that sent 21 people to nearby hospitals.
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A few honks, a quick blip in the video and a sideways white Lexus are shown in the seconds surrounding the crash, according to the videos obtained by The Sun News through a Freedom of Information Act request. Profanity-laced yelling is heard after the crash as passengers began getting off the bus.
Doug Herriott, transportation manager at Coast RTA, classified the crash as a “major accident” in an email to Brian Piascik, general manager and CEO of Coast RTA. The email was obtained through a FOIA request filed by The Sun News. An email from Piascik to the board indicated the driver, Lawrence Jones, was taken to Grand Strand Medical Center.
Piascik said Jones came back as a driver about mid-July.
“He was out for a little while,” Piascik said. “he banged up his knee pretty good and was wearing a knee brace. Plus it’s good to take a break after something like that. This is one of our best drivers. It was his first accident in 17 years, so I know he was shaken up about it. He’s back, had a smile on his face and we’re happy to have him back.”
The crash occurred shortly after 9 a.m. The video shows the Lexus traveling north on U.S. 501 and attempting to turn left onto Robert Grissom Parkway. The Lexus failed to yield the right of way, according to Myrtle Beach Police, and was struck by the Coast RTA bus that was traveling south on U.S. 501.
Piascik said there were two crashes in June and two in July. Neither of the two in July nor the other one in June were as serious as the June 16 crash.
“In our industry, we have accidents that are preventable and unpreventable, and I don’t think either one of these [in June] were preventable,” Piascik said. “But by the same token, there are steps you can take when approaching intersections. We teach our drivers to be foot-over-brake. You’re not accelerating through any intersections.”
All of those who went to the hospital were released later that day, according to Piascik.