Since they’re large, heavy, and spacious, buses often make passengers feel at ease during travel. Many people assume since buses are large, they’ll be safer than someone in a smaller vehicle during an accident. However, bus accidents can be devastating for those inside and outside of a bus,
Bus accidents are a serious problem for multiple reasons. First, they typically place multiple people at risk of harm. Buses can carry dozens of people and usually share roads with many other smaller cars. Second, buses are heavy and large—these qualities combine to produce catastrophic results for every person involved in an accident with one.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) tracks the number of bus accidents that occur each year in the United States. According to the administration’s most recent report, there were a total of 8,044 bus accidents in 2019. During these accidents, 168 people were killed and 7,537 were injured.
Why Buses Can Be Dangerous
As mentioned above, buses offer passengers a false sense of security because of their size and weight. A bus’s size, however, can make accidents that would have been otherwise minor devastating for all involved.
Factors that make buses unsafe include:
- A lack of safety restraints
- An unsupported or unreinforced roof
- A lack of airbags
Notable Bus Accidents in the United States
In 2005, 23 senior citizens being evacuated from Hurricane Rita danger zones were killed when the bus they were on caught fire, trapping them inside. An investigation later determined that the bus had been improperly maintained and its driver had an invalid license.
In 2007, seven people were killed when a bus carrying a university baseball team drove off an overpass. Investigators stated that seat belts would have saved many lives. The bus, like most of its kind, was not equipped with that safety feature.
In 2008, 27 people were killed in two separate bus crashes. In one, investigators noted that the bus had insufficient safety features. In the other, the bus had an invalid license plate and registration, and the driver was overtired.
In 2011, a driver with a record of 18 suspended licenses caused a bus crash in the Bronx that killed 15 people. This incident led to the shutdown of a chain of unsafe bus companies, yet no bus safety laws were created in response.
How to Improve Bus Safety
The accidents listed above are a small sample of a large problem on the nation’s highways. Some argue that buses cannot be made any safer. Most experts agree that making three specific safety features mandatory on all buses would save countless lives.
Seat belts keep people in place and are one of the simplest ways to save lives. However, many bus passengers associate riding the bus with not using seat belts; this perception needs to change. When the force of an accident propels bus passengers from their seats, hurtling them into danger, wearing a seat belt mitigates or prevents injury just as doing so does in smaller vehicles.
A significant cause of injury in bus accidents is crushing by the actual structure of the bus. While large, the “cage” passengers are enclosed in is often less reinforced than smaller vehicles. If buses have structures with better pillars between windows and stronger roofs, they’re less likely to collapse on passengers during an accident.
Researchers have developed a unique glaze for bus windows that prevents the ejection of passengers in the event of an accident. Since being thrown from the vehicle is a significant cause of bus-crash fatalities, making glazed windows a mandatory bus safety feature would save lives.
Bus Safety Requires Driver Training & Screening
In the accidents listed earlier in this article, driver error or recklessness was often the cause. When a company hires drivers, they must ensure that they are qualified to drive a vehicle safely. Drivers must be adequately trained, so they have the knowledge and experience needed to operate their bus safely. Additionally, companies must make sure that drivers are rested and do not work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Bus Maintenance: Simple & Essential for Safety
Finally, bus maintenance is one of the simplest yet often overlooked aspects of bus safety. Bus companies need to invest in maintaining their fleets. Even though bus maintenance can increase operating costs, it prevents predictable accidents from mechanical failure from happening. Anytime a maintenance issue causes a bus accident, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for the injuries and deaths which result from it.
What to Do After a Bus Accident Injury
If you’ve sustained injuries in a bus accident, it’s likely that someone could have prevented your suffering but failed to do so. No one should have to deal with the pressures of medical debt, time lost at work, and other financial struggles caused by bus accidents. If you need help, call Arnold & Itkin LLP.
Our team of bus accident lawyers fights for the compensation clients need after serious accidents. We never back down, we never accept less than clients deserve, and we will be your aggressive advocate through every step of the process.
Call us today for a free consultation with a member of our team at (888) 493-1629. We never collect a fee unless we win.