By Michael Ehline – Buses are normally thought of as long distance or local transport/livery vehicles, like the ones that pick you up on a designated route, such as a bench, or bus stop. But bus accidents do not always involve these particular types of commercial vehicles. There are also other types of buses, and the average for them to be involved in accidents is often higher than the local or long distance commercial passenger vehicles discussed above.
The other types of buses include:
- School Buses
- Shuttle Buses
- Hotel Vans
- Casino Shuttle Services
- Party Buses
- Tour Buses
- Airport Shuttles
These are passenger buses that must adhere to the same Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations as other commercial vehicles and a high standard of safety. Drivers are to be properly trained and the bus is to be properly maintained. When these things do not happen, then it might only be a matter of time until the bus is involved in a bus accident. This can involve any of the different types of buses, even the ones that children ride on daily to travel to school and home.
Examples of Recent Bus Accidents
One of the most recent bus incidents resulted in the death of a child. The child was an 11 year old girl on a bus with others traveling to her cousin’s quinecanera celebration. The girl was sitting on the back of her seat, when authorities believe she leaned against the emergency window while the bus was turning. The girl was killed in the incident, and it was found by authorities the driver was not properly trained or licensed. The bus was believed to not have the proper inspections or permits either.
This is not an isolated incident; bus accidents happen quite often and usually result in tragedy for passengers and their family members. All motor vehicle accidents can have devastating outcomes, but when it is a commercial passenger vehicle, there are many more people who may be injured or killed in an accident. These crashes happen for various reasons, including driver error, an improperly trained driver, or lack of proper bus maintenance.
When this kind of crash occurs, there is an investigation into the cause to determine how it happened, and this will usually determine how it could have been avoided. Some of these crashes do happen due to circumstances beyond the bus operator’s control, but the greatest number are due to driver negligence, error, or inexperience. This is why there are regulations regarding the training of drivers and special licensing. These are large vehicles, which have a lot of glass and usually have no seatbelts, leaving passengers at risk if there is an incident. Safety issues have long been debated, and while most buses do not have seatbelts, there are opinions on both sides. In the event of an accident, the lack of seat belts leaves passengers unprotected from large windows, metal, plastic and other materials on the inside of the bus, as well as colliding with other passengers. A 2009 study showed there were 221 fatal bus accidents annually and, when compared to 18,315 car collisions, show that this type of transportation is relatively safer than personal vehicles.
The one statistic that stands out is that 15 out of 19 bus accidents were due to driver negligence. This negligence included failing to drive safely for weather conditions, driver fatigue, abrupt lane changes, and veering off of the road. This data was included in a government study showing how these accidents occur, and that motor coaches represent 0.7 percent of all large vehicle crashes. It was found that 18 out of 19 drivers had violations in their driving record, and these violations included:
- Improper lane changes
- Improper turning or passing
- Failure to obey traffic signs or signals
- Prior suspended driver’s license
When deciding to travel by bus, passengers believe they are safe, whether traveling to work, across the country, or on a tour bus. The studies show that passengers are actually only as safe as the bus operator’s driving record and the company’s maintenance record. When the bus company is not responsible in their hiring of drivers or maintenance, they can be held responsible. They are accountable when the standard of care is not upheld, and they are accountable when Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations are not followed. These are just some of the many issues showing the many different types of bus accidents. Learn more.