Many modern busses lack effective safety equipment (most notably safety belts) designed to protect you in the event of a collision or roll-over. And the same busses are sometimes operated by a driver that does not have the skill/training or required licensing to be driving the bus you just boarded! The NTSB and NHTSA are respected government agencies that are supposed to regulate and enforce U.S. transportation, so why are these busses still on our roadways?
- inadequate fleet management
- renovation of existing busses is considered cost-prohibitive
- lack of regular maintenance
- mediocre drivers
- inadequate government regulation at the state AND federal level
Unfortunately, these are problems that have yet to be remedied. And whether you board a city bus, a chartered coach-style bus, or place your child on a school bus, bus passengers are at risk. A quick google search of the phrase "bus crash" returns frightening results.
· In 2005 a chartered bus in Houston was taking nearly two-dozen senior citizens to safety from the projected path of Hurricane Rita, when the bus caught fire trapping all of the passengers inside as it burned. The investigators found in this situation that the bus had not been serviced appropriately and that the driver did not even have a valid driver’s license for the U.S.
· Another accident occurred in 2007, a bus carrying more than 30 college baseball players when the bus flipped in Atlanta leaving 7 dead and 28 injured. The NTSB found in their investigation, that if the bus had been equipped with seat belts that some of those deaths could have been prevented.
· In August of 2008, a chartered bus in Texas carrying more than 50, crashed leaving 17 dead and 33 injured. Investigators have initially placed blame on a tire that was repaired and placed on a front axle which goes against regulations. Investigators also found that had updated safety equipment been installed, that it might have reduced the deaths and injuries.
· Also in 2008, in October, a bus carrying almost 4 dozen overturned in California leaving 10 dead and injuring the majority of the other passengers. The investigators on this accident found that the bus had an invalid license plate and registration, and the driver was alleged to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.
If owner/operators determine that implementing proven safety technolgies on their busses is cost-prohibitive, and government agencies fail to enforce regulations, then a recipe for disaster will continue to exist. And as the economy continues to trend downward, the bus crisis seems to follow just the same as more people begin to rely upon public transit. This only increases the percentages of a person's likelihood to suffer serious injury or death as the result of a bus crash.
We live in an age in which automobiles can warn drivers of accidents that are about to happen, so it seems questionable that we view "compartmentalization" as an acceptable excuse for our children's school busses to be without safety belts.
Bus accidents resulting in serious injury require expert legal counsel. If you have questions about a recent bus accident, or need additional information about your potential bus crash injury case, please contact Keller & Keller LLP to ensure your rights are protected.