Government investigators and bus safety advocates want the federal government
to come up with stronger safety regulations for the US commercial bus
industry. The call came at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing
this week when investigators announced that speeding was the cause of
a deadly 2008 bus accident in Utah.
At the hearing, federal investigators said speeding and driver fatigue were the likely causes of the deadly January 6, 2008 bus crash that occurred in the Utah town of Mexican Hat in the Four Corners area. The bus driver, age 71, was probably driving somewhere between 88 and 92 miles per hour and experiencing altitude sickness along with a head cold when the deadly crash happened. He also may have been suffering from sleep apnea. The bus, which was transporting 56 people who had been on a Colorado ski trip, moved toward the guardrail before falling off an embankment. The roof of the bus was sheared off and the majority of the passengers were ejected from the vehicle. 9 people died, while 43 others sustained injuries, some of which were severe.
The investigators chastised the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsitration for its failure to execute safety recommendations from 1999 when the NTSB called for stronger motor coach roofs—a safey measure that could have saved the lives of people killed in the Utah crash. The NTSB had also recommended seat belts and windows that are easy-to-open that could have prevented certain catastrophic injuries and saved many lives over the past 10 years. Now investigators are saying that it’s time to make these necessary changes as well as improve its medical oversight of bus drivers who may be suffering from certain health issues, such as sleep apnea.
Another way to improve bus safety is to implement stability-control technology that could decrease the number of rollover bus accidents—the leading cause of bus accident deaths. Safety advocates also point out that making bus owners comply with tougher safety regulations would make bus travel a lot safer.
Cheaper bus prices, more convenient bus connections, and a troubled airline industry has resulted in more people traveling on buses. Some 750 million bus passengers travel in over 34,000 commercial buses in the US and Canada annually.
Motor Coach Bus Accident Facts
Between 2000 and 2007, there were over 57,000 motor coach crashes that claimed the lives of 401 people. In the past eight months alone, there have been catastrophic rollover bus accidents in California, Arizona, and Missouri that have killed 25 people. About 30 to 50 people die in US bus collisions every year.
Any kind of motor vehicle defect is a dangerous defect and one that can cause injuries and deaths. It is the obligation of commercial bus manufacturers to make sure that there are no defects or deficiencies in the design of a bus that could allow for serious injuries or deaths to occur. Federal and state safety departments must also make sure that they have safety regulations that force bus makers to comply with stricter safety standards.
If you have been injured in a bus accident caused by driver negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. You also may have grounds for a products liability lawsuit if deficient design or a defective bus part was a contributing factor in causing the bus accident.
Bus Safety Rules Are Long Overdue, Board Says, Washington Post, April 22, 2009
Bus Crash Hearing Brings Calls for Stronger Safety Regulation, PeterGreenberg.com, April 22, 2009
Related Web Resources:
National Transportation Safety Board
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
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