CAUSES OF BUS ACCIDENTS
On an annual basis, more than 63,000 buses are involved in accidents. Of those accidents, approximately 14,000 result in injuries to a person, of which 325 injuries are fatal, including an average of 50 passenger fatalities. Recently, a charter bus in Eagle Pass rolled over resulting in over 40 injuries and 9 fatalities.
The usual causes of bus accidents are no different than most commercial vehicle accidents – fatigue, aggressive driving, errors, distracted driving, drugs or alcohol use, faulty equipment and/or safety violations.
MAIN CAUSES OF BUS ACCIDENTS
Federal regulations prohibit bus companies from allowing drivers to drive in a fatigued or likely to become fatigued state. In fact, federal regulations require bus drivers to log their hours in a log book. However, these federal regulations are often ignored. Bus drivers often have to drive long trips from city to city leaving very little opportunity for drivers to gain meaningful rest. Sometimes, drivers will even falsify their log books. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fatigued drivers are twice as likely to make performance errors versus a driver who is not fatigued.
Most motorists who are late to work will often speed to work, make risky lane changes, or perform other unsafe driving maneuvers, such as failing to check blind spots or making too wide of turns. Some bus drivers act no differently. In fact, they have a schedule to keep – a predetermined route – and therefore face time pressure. A bus is a huge vehicle with a lot of weight behind it. The faster the bus travels, the harder it is for the bus to stop when needed, and the more destruction it can create.
Distracted driving includes texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, etc. and has been a rising problem and a main cause for bus accidents. According to a State Farm survey, 52% of drivers owned a smart phone in 2011 where as 80% of drivers owned a smart phone by 2014. Studies demonstrate that five seconds is the average time you spend sending a text and not looking at the road. At 55 miles per hour, a vehicle can cover the length of a football field in five seconds. A lot can change on the road in those five seconds. Bus drivers are not allowed, under any circumstances, to drive while they are texting, eating, drinking or to do anything besides keeping their attention on the road. Unfortunately, some drivers decide to ignore the law, which can cause tragic accidents.
Drugs and Alcohol Use
Drug and alcohol impairment vastly reduces a driver’s ability to safely drive. A NHTSA study found that drivers at the legal limit – .08 percent – were nearly four times more likely to crash than a sober driver. In 2013, a study found that over 15% of drivers tested positive for at least one illegal drug, representing a 12% increase from 2007. Alcohol or drugs are known to impair vision, concentration, coordination, and reaction time and illegal or prescription drugs can have a variety of adverse effects on driving and, consequently, can cause serious accidents.
Faulty Equipment and Safety Violations
Vehicle maintenance is expensive for large busses. It’s not uncommon for bus drivers and bus companies to try to save money by neglecting maintenance. Federal regulations require regular maintenance and inspections for buses. However, if a bus is in repair, then it is not on the road making money. Lack of inspections or inadequate inspections and maintenance can lead to brakes failing and/or tires blowing out, which can lead to tragic accidents on the road.
Bus wrecks can be traumatic and leave behind a wake of destruction. Bus passengers or other motorists involved in a wreck with a bus driver can suffer severe physical and mental disabilities due to the violent nature of the collision. Some families lose loved ones who were primary income sources for the family. A bus accident lawsuit can allow victims access to compensation including health care expenses, lost income, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, potential punitive damages, burial expenses, and more.
The numbers speak for themselves. Whether its fatigue, aggressive driving, distracted driving, inadequate maintenance, or something else, bus wrecks can lead to massive damages. Bus companies and their insurance companies have an army of lawyers doing everything possible to minimize and prevent compensating victims. Some buses come equipped with “black boxes” that contain useful information such as the number of hours the engine has been on, vehicle speed, and hard brake stops, which can be an extremely important piece of evidence. It is important to preserve this evidence before the bus company and their lawyers destroy it.