A USA Today report found that a large number of bus accidents involving fatalities are not being reported to government officials, creating a false impression that buses are safe. The size of buses and the lack of protective equipment such as seatbelts make them particularly dangerous for travelers, and the likelihood of deadly injuries is high.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for tracking bus accidents, but a review of news reports and government records shows that the agency has been undercounting fatal bus crashes since 1995. For more than a decade, it appears that inaccurate collision numbers have been reported to Congress and to the public.
Safety advocates say that underreporting is dangerous because it thwarts efforts to enact tougher regulations for the bus industry. Motor coach fatalities have risen dramatically in recent years, and stiff penalties need to be put in place in order to deter further harm. Our Illinois bus accident lawyers know that bus injuries are often catastrophic, because buses lack seat belts and strong roofs. Passengers are thrown around or even ejected from the bus, resulting in great bodily harm or death. Buses are also more prone to roll-overs due to their large size and high center of gravity.
One of the most disastrous bus crashes of the decade was a highly publicized accident in Tallulah, Louisiana in 2003. Eight senior citizen passengers died when their church bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended a tractor-trailer. This is just one of many fatal bus crashes that federal transportation safety officials failed to report. USA Today found that over 40 bus crash deaths went unreported from 1995 through 2009, which potentially led the public to underestimate the serious safety threat they face while riding on a bus.
The government has tried to promote bus safety by proposing a requirement
of seat belts on motor coaches and doubling the number of surprise safety
checks. Meanwhile, accidents continue to happen, even more frequently
than some passengers may think.
Our experienced bus accident attorneys understand how to assess on a case-by-case basis. In many cases, the bus driver is responsible for careless or reckless driving. Other times, private bus companies may be to blame for failing to adequately train employees or provide them with proper safety equipment. Adverse road conditions and weather conditions are also taken into account when determining who is responsible for a fatal bus crash.
When serious injuries or death result from a bus collision due to driver error the injured victims and their families may seek compensation from the driver or the owner of the bus compnay. A negligence or wrongful death lawsuit is an available tool to hold responsible parties accountable. Bus accident drivers hold many lives in their hands, and they are responsible for very large vehicles. The law requires that they keep their buses properly equipped and their passengers safe from harm.
Although some bus accidents may be unavoidable due to hazardous conditions, many times they are preventable provided that bus drivers follow the rules of the road and take adequate safety measures to protect passengers.