Bus accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that at least six people were recently brought to hospitals after a bus struck a vehicle on Chicago’s South Side. The bus was carrying special needs adults.
Fortunately, according the Chicago Fire Department, none of the injuries are life-threatening. The accident occurred around 7:15 a.m. on the 6600 block of South St. Lawrence Avenue. Victims were taken to University of Chicago Hospitals and St. Bernard Hospital. A van reportedly slammed into the school bus, causing it to hit a light pole before coming to a stop next to a parked SUV.
A similar accident occurred in New Jersey recently, though with much more devastating consequences. In February 2012, a school bus collided with a dump truck, killing an 11-year-old girl. The bus was carrying 25 students to Chesterfield Elementary School when the dump truck collided with the left rear of the bus. The school bus spun 180 degrees, ultimately slamming into a traffic light pole.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in its investigation, determined that fatigue, driver medical history, an oversized dump truck load, and speed all contributed to the crash. The agency also stated that the probable cause of the crash was the school bus driver’s failure to observe the dump truck, which was approaching the intersection the school bus was in with high speeds and close proximity.
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In its synopsis report, the agency affirmed that cognitive decline due to fatigue, prescription pain medications, chronic sleep debt and poor sleep quality, all exacerbated the seriousness of the crash. The school bus driver, John Tieman’s, along with the dump truck driver, Michael Caporale, were both cited for factors that caused the crash.
Even further compounding the severity of the crash, the brakes on the truck were defective, its load was overweight, and its operator, Herman’s Trucking, failed to properly install the lift axle brake system. The injuries to the children were due to their lack of seat belt usage and the lack of protection from interior sidewalls and seat frames.
NTSB investigators examined the truck driver, bus driver, specific components of the vehicles, and environmental conditions to make their final probable cause and synopsis reports. As a result of the New Jersey investigation, the NTSB made recommendations to improve the qualifications of school bus drivers.
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As stated, Tieman, the bus driver involved in the crash, was prescribed medications that caused sedation. In addition to increased oversight of the medical certification of commercial drivers, the NTSB recommended the use of brake monitoring systems and onboard scales for trucks weighing at least 10,000 pounds. Additionally, the agency called for the development of new technology, which would allow all vehicles on highways to communicate with each other.
Other recommendations included the distribution of materials to parents and students about the critical importance of actually wearing the seat belts on school buses and increased training for bus drivers, parents and students on the proper usage of the seat belts.
Because of the size and weight of such trucks, along with the freight they carry, which is often overweight or oversized itself, even minor accidents can result in serious and life-threatening injuries. Many different factors can lead to truck and bus accidents, and driver fatigue is becoming increasingly common.
Bus and trucking accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help victims of such accidents determine their rights and legal options. Delays in legal actions may prevent you from pursing your case to its full potential, so it is important you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.