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Gregg Allman's tour bus crashed... are buses or planes more dangerous for touring?

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...fortunately no one was seriously injured, but it got me thinking about just how unsafe traveling in a tour bus can be. Everyone worries about airplane crashes, and they have taken out quite a few notable musicians, but having good friends who were nearly killed in a tour bus crash in Spain (one in which the bus driver perished), I know how badly people can get hurt while riding in that type of transportation in the event of a crash.


What about you? Are you more worried traveling to a gig in a plane, or on a tour bus, or in your own vehicle?

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I've never been on a musical tour, but I've traveled a bit by both auto and bus in the US, Mexico, and Europe. And, while I'm not a deeply experienced flyer, I've flown the west coast a few times as well as flying to Europe a couple times.


I generally feel safe in planes -- and I'm generally pretty comfortable as long as we're in the air and going somewhere* -- but make me wait in a closed up plane on the ground and I get VERY edgy. Not rational but not negotiable.


Cars... I love 'em -- as long as I'm driving (and they're in good shape). If other people are driving... not so much. (What is it about people that they cannot seem to grasp the '3 second rule' -- I frequently see people following other cars at 80+ mph from around a car length -- and sometimes less!) I've been in high speed accidents. I've been in cars that spun and a car that flipped on its side on the freeway. (I wasn't hurt badly in either of those but it definitely makes an impression -- particularly when you get pavement burns through a couple layers of clothes because your window was open when the car [beetle] flipped onto its passenger side.)


Buses... I've never been scared on an American bus. But... in Mexico and in Yugoslavia I rode in buses on winding mountain roads driven by madmen. Madmen. (The Mexican driver seemed like a fun guy, he was playing corridas on this huge blaster strapped into the front of the bus all the way, chatting with people in back of him, tailgating farm trucks around blind curves next to multi-hundred foot drops, etc. The Yugoslavian driver was just nuts, plain and simple.)





*OK, even in my limited experience, both times coming back from Europe, I ran into some disturbing weather. In the first case, N Atlantic turbulence forced the plain to make an unscheduled stop at a military base in Montana to refuel; in the second, we ran into a wind shear that caused the plane to drop 7 thousand feet in a matter of seconds. Much distress onboard -- though no one flying around the cabin or bumping their heads on the ceiling. But one woman literally had to be pried out of her seat (and I do mean literally, her hands were frozen, bone-white, on the arm rests). I was a few rows back and had to wait until they could get her out -- which added a good 20 minutes to things. Somehow they got her into a wheel chair -- her hands still bone-white and gripping the wheel chair arms -- and wheeled her out.


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Last I knew statistics say you are much safer travelling by air per-mile. Truth is travel of any kind has an element of risk. What's really dangerous is working your day job, loading up someone''s van, driving an hour+ to the gig, loading in and setting up, playing 4 hours and having a few, tearing down and loading out, then driving back to the rehearsal spot, unloading, then driving home, possibly after partying at the rehearsal spot.


Real tours employ drivers who's only jobs are to get proper rest when not driving and limit the driving to "legal" hours. Kinda funny, one of my bands has an "honorary roady" who's a retired T/T and Bus tour driver. He has a few interesting stories but none from "real' tours - those are pretty booring and all business. His buddies still call him up and send photos, Taylor Swift runs two crews leapfrog with an AMAZING number of trucks (28?) .

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It's all about the same to me.


Given the number of person-hours that people spend in "Planes and Boats and Trains" (sorry, I couldn't resist) plus cars, and buses, logic will say that it's pretty safe. However it's often tragic when it happens.


I think the worst part of the fear of planes, cruise ships, and buses is that you are not in control. On the other hand, the pilot/captain/driver might be a much better driver than you, and chances are, they don't want to die either.


I don't take reckless chances and then don't think about it. But I was gigging on a cruise ship that came close to capsizing.


The problem with living is, nobody gets out of here alive.


Insights and incites by Notes

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