When we step on board a charter bus or tour bus, we have a reasonable expectation that it will get us safely to our intended destination. Over the years, there has been an increasing number of bus-related accidents in the United States. This past September, a driver of a charter bus collided with another bus in Queens, New York, killing himself and two others.
Officials are now investigating the charter bus company involved. The driver that caused the incident had previously served jail time for DUI. He even had his licensed suspended two years prior. He was somehow able to get a job with another charter bus company and resume driving. Lawmakers are now calling for stricter regulations in the charter bus and private bus industry.
Startling Trends & Statistics in Charter Bus Accidents
Each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes a report on bus and truck accidents. In their most recent report, the FMCSA found that 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes. The data shows that the rate of accidents has increased by 26% since 2009. From the year 2009 to 2015, injury crashes (non-fatal) has increased by 62%.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated amount of 21 occupants of motor coach and large buses are killed and 7,934 are injured in motor vehicle crashes annually.
Common Causes of Charter Bus Accidents
Considering the sharp increase in bus-related injuries and fatalities, you may be wondering what could be the cause. At Herrmann Law Group, we’ve compiled a list of common causes of charter bus accidents:
Driving under the influence & distracted driving: It goes without saying that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and negligent, regardless of what type of vehicle is being operated. Considering its size and limited visibility, buses can be difficult to maneuver for even sober and experienced drivers. In the state of Washington, using a cell phone or electronic device while driving is also considered driving under the influence in a non-emergency situation.
Snowy or icy weather conditions: Winter weather can a big factor in bus-related accidents. When cold fronts moves in, many local government agencies aren’t able to react quickly enough to keep roads and highways safe. Any big vehicle, such as a charter bus or tour bus, should not drive on icy roads due to their size, weight and overall lack of maneuverability.
Lack of proper bus maintenance: Charter bus companies are looking to make as much money as they can. Sometimes, they will skimp on regular maintenance because it eats too much into their monthly profits.
Since November 2016, the NHTSA requires seat belts for all newly manufactured buses. However, since the law doesn’t require retrofit, many older buses don’t offer seat belts.
Staying Safe in a Charter Bus
As a passenger, there is not much you can do to prevent a charter bus accident from occurring. However, there are a few safety precautions you can take to stay as safe as possible while traveling. Carefully research the company online and read customer reviews. If the company has a history of negligent behavior, avoid booking with them.
Pay attention to the driver when you board the bus. Here are a few questions to ask yourself: Is he/she alert and awake? Are they slurring their words when talking? When they are driving, are they staying in one lane and driving sensibly? Are they weaving about and driving recklessly? If you and your fellow passengers suspect something is off or unusual with the bus driver, we recommend reporting it to the authorities if you believe you are in danger.
Contact Your Charter Bus Accident Attorneys
At Herrmann Law Group, we will fight hard to get you the justice and help you deserve after a charter bus accident. Give us a call to speak to one of our attorneys who will help you navigate the complex and sometimes confusing aftermath of a charter bus accident. If you have any additional questions regarding charter bus accidents not covered in this article, don’t hesitate to reach out.