Four people suffered serious injuries. Our bus injury attorneys note the operator of the bus was charged with reckless driving. The conditions were snowy and slick, but authorities say the bigger issue here was speed. The driver was simply traveling too fast for conditions. Authorities estimate he may have been going about 60 miles-per-hour. He lost control. The vehicle fishtailed, careened off the road and then flipped.
We highlight this case as a means of stressing the importance for those booking spring bus trips of researching commercial bus companies before making the deposit. Buses are considered a generally safe mode of transportation for tourists. However, some companies have far worse track records than others.
Drivers employed by the firm that owned this bus have been cited three times for speed since November 2012. It’s true that there are drivers who sometimes don’t follow the rules and aren’t cautious, no matter how many internal rules and federal regulations are in place. However, when you have that many citations in such a short amount of time, it indicates a pattern. It could show that this company put pressure on its drivers to arrive at their destinations quickly, perhaps to reduce hours of service and cram in as many trips as possible.
Now, we have peak spring travel season approaching. In order to promote passenger safety,the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently unveiled a SaferBus iPhone/iPad app. The goal is to allow riders the opportunity to “look before you book.”
The feature provides instant access to the safety records of some 6,000 interstate commercial passenger carriers operating across the country. Those include not just tour bus companies, but also privately-owned motorcoach operations and even school bus records.
Riders can examine whether bus companies have unsatisfactory safety ratings or if at any point they’ve been ordered out-of-service. Safety performance data includes information on citations for unsafe driving, hours-of-service compliance, driver fitness, vehicle maintenance and controlled substances and alcohol consumption. Consumers are encouraged to frequently check the operating status of a carrier, as it could change on a day-to-day basis.
The app additionally allows consumers to file complaints regarding safety, service and discrimination issues during their commercial bus experience. The information goes to the FMCSA, which in turn will target future investigations.
For those who have been injured, other remedies are available – namely, personal injury litigation. Keep in mind that if you were involved in a commercial bus crash resulting from an unsafe driver or vehicle, it’s probably not the first time that company has had an issue.
A recent report by USA Today indicated that the number of bus crashes and fatalities in the U.S. are actually higher than previously reported. In fact, some of the worst motor coach accidents of the last 10 years somehow didn’t make it onto the list of statistical fatalities issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Those included a crash in Louisiana that killed eight people in 2003.
The news agency found that the NHTSA has under-counted motor coach crashes and deaths since at least 1995.
Since the start of the Obama administration, however, the federal government has doubled the number of surprise motor coach and bus inspections, and has also offered up a proposal that would require seat belts on these vehicles.
For consumers, an indication of a strong safety record by a carrier may not completely shield you from a crash, but it will improve the odds that that particular carrier prioritizes your well-being.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Update: Driver charged after bus carrying 58 passengers crashes on I-95, March 17, 2014, By Richard Reeve, ABC-7
More Blog Entries:
Fatal N.Y. Metro Train Crash Prompts NTSB Safety Recommendations, March 20, 2014, Brooklyn Bus Accident Lawyer Blog