A bus crash in Palm Springs California took the lives of 13 people including the bus driver and injured 31 others, many seriously. The casino bus, which was traveling along Interstate 10, rammed the rear of a tractor trailer without any sign of slowing down. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.
If this story seems much like others that have been reported recently, it is. Bus accidents are unfortunately becoming increasingly common. In fact, there have been scores of bus crashes nationwide this year, causing numerous fatalities and injuries, several of which occurred in California. In 2013, the last year where complete statistics are available, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistics show that there were 18,000 bus crashes nationwide resulting in 38,000 injuries. Of these crashes, 280 were fatal crashes resulting in 380 deaths.
What Causes Bus Crashes?
A large portion of the crashes can be contributed to negligence or error on the part of the driver or bus company, however there may be many other contributing factors. The five major causes of bus crashes can be broken down as follows:
1. Driver Negligence or Distraction - The driver of a bus may be negligent by not obeying the speed limit, following other vehicles too closely, making unsafe lane changes, being drowsy from exceeding the number of on duty hours prescribed by law or under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The driver may have been distracted using a smart phone, GPS or simply talking with a passenger while operating the bus.
2. Unsafe Vehicle Equipment - Bus companies are required to make regular safety inspections of the vehicle. Failure to inspect can result in a crash due to faulty brakes, tires, steering and suspension which create dangerous handling problems
3. Urban Location - Maneuvering a large bus in restrictive spaces can pose a risk to other vehicles, pedestrians and property.
4. Road Conditions - Poorly marked hazards, construction areas, weather conditions, bad lighting and signage, poorly maintained road surfaces can all be contributing factors in bus accidents.
5. Weight Distribution - Vehicle stability can be adversely affected by improper weight distribution. Rollovers are a leading cause of multiple injuries in bus crashes, as many do not have seat belts. Buses are inherently top heavy. Allowing too many passengers and luggage on a bus can create a potential for a crash, particularly if combined with an equipment problem, such as under inflated tires or worn suspension.
In addition to the five common causes listed above, other contributing factors may include an inexperienced, poorly trained, or aging driver. An accident may also be triggered by the driver of another vehicle who may have cut in front of the bus too closely or was traveling in the bus drivers blind spot.
The Bus Accident Attorney
When a bus accident occurs involving injuries, a law firm with experience in large commercial vehicle accidents is invaluable in determining the true cause of the accident and who is at fault. The attorney will access police reports, review driving records, carrier safety records and inspection records. The attorney will also interview witnesses and even hire an accident reconstruction firm to determine exactly what occurred in the time leading up to and during the crash. Bus companies will fight vehemently to defend themselves against any claim of negligence in an accident. A qualified bus accident law firm will have the resources to front the high cost of the case through to the last appeal, no matter how long it takes.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a bus accident, contact Vititoe Law Group, experienced bus accident attorneys and staff, for a free case evaluation.