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Anything goes on party buses, state can’t regulate behavior

The state regulates about 250 charter bus companies that operate in Washington - many of those are party buses. (File photo)

I was that mom.

I was the one who rented a party bus to take a group of 28 high school students to their senior prom.

They had fun and everything was fine, but now I’m wondering how are rolling parties regulated and why would anyone want to be a party bus driver? I have an answer to the first question. The second is beyond me.

The driver I hired only had two rules for prom goers: Don’t put your hands out the windows; girls, don’t stand on the seats with your heels – it wrecks the fabric.

Presumably, it would be okay to take shoes off and stand on the seats. Dancing in the aisles and jumping around was okay too. “What happens in the party bus stays on the party bus,” the female driver said.

“It’s a party bus. What would you expect?” asks David Pratt, assistant director for transportation safety with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

His group regulates the 250 charter bus companies that operate in Washington – many of those are party buses.

“The Utilities and Transportation Department regulates them for safety,” Pratt Says. “We audit companies, which means we inspect their books and their records which would include driver trip times and making sure they have the proper amount of insurance. We also make sure the drivers have the proper endorsements on their driver’s licenses.”

A driver carrying 16 or more passengers needs to have a commercial license.

The federal government is considering legislation right now that would require all new buses that are manufactured to have seat belts for every passenger.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates seat belts would add between $8,000 and $15,000 to the cost of a new bus.

Pratt says while people could be “flying around” if there was an accident with a party bus, in general the rolling parties on wheels might prevent more injuries than they cause.

“Party buses serve a good purpose,” he says. “They keep people from being out there drinking and driving. If these are high school kids they shouldn’t be doing that anyway, but I think it’s good that you have buses that do this and haul the people around.”

By LINDA THOMAS

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