Note: Although this page has been updated in 2013, the most recent statistical data available is for the year 2011.
There is no doubt the number of accidents that occur while driving on the road in America are constantly increasing every year. Injuries and deaths accumulate until the end of every year, only to start the count over again for the next year. Even public transportation vehicles experience crashes every year, but they are relatively low compared to everyday drivers. Bus accident statistics, for example, are lower than the average statistics for car accidents. Only 24,000 people experience injuries from bus crashes annually in America. Some states experience more bus crashes than others, like California, for example. California is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to bus crashes.
Major Causes of Bus Crashes
Driving accidents are virtually impossible to avoid 100% of the time, but there are plenty of examples of how bus drivers can be at fault for an accident. One of the leading causes of bus accidents is the failure of the driver to see another vehicle on the road. Buses are big and bulky, which produces various blind spots that make it difficult for the bus driver to see everything around them. Another major contributor to bus accident statistics involves inadequate training. Some bus drivers are not properly trained enough, which is a frequent factor found in a lot of lawsuits that involve bus crashes. Poor maintenance of a bus is also a major contributor to bus accidents that occur annually.
2011 Bus Accident Statistics (Most Recently Available Data)
- 283 – number of people killed in 2011
- 24,000 – number of people injured
Annual Bus Accident Statistics
- Every year, 360 million people take the bus for one reason or another.
- A combined 28 billion miles are traveled by bus passengers every year.
- There are 30,000 commercial buses on the road in America alone.
- Every day, there are 450,000 school buses on the road.
- 12,000 injuries annually are experienced by children on school buses.
- Around 11 children die each year from a bus accident.
Understanding Liability – Requirements of a Bus Driver
Understanding liability issues is the first step towards determining who’s to blame. A bus driver should be fully qualified and well trained before operating a bus. Operating a commercial bus, school bus, shuttle bus, or any type of public bus, for that matter, will require training. Bus drivers are responsible for their passenger’s lives, and if a driver is found liable, they will be accountable for any damages caused by a bus crash.
Simple Steps to Protect Your Rights after a Bus Accident
The first and the most obvious step to take after a bus crash is filing a report. Reports should be filed with local law enforcement, like the sheriff’s department or the highway patrol. Obtaining detailed information from everyone involved in a bus accident is important as well. Take pictures of the accident and any injuries that you or other passengers may have experienced. Never sign any document until you speak with your lawyer in order to avoid deceptive contracts. Seek out medical attention right way, and obtain copies of all medical records pertaining to the injuries received from a bus accident.
The following information was compiled by the law firm of Fisher & Talwar. If you are injured in a bus accident in California, contact our bus accident attorney for assistance.
- Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts (U.S. Department of Transportation)
Bus Crash Examples
Bus accidents, for both passengers on board and for other vehicles on the road, can be especially dangerous. A bus, when it loses control, may become a massive metal projectile that can tear through almost anything in its path.
Southern California Bus Crash
In one case, which happened just last Sunday on February 3rd, 2013 on a southwest mountain road, a speeding bus rear-ended a sedan which caused the bus to flip and strike a pickup truck. At least eight people were killed, and another three dozen reported injuries. The bus, in this case, had been full of men, women, and children returning from a weekend ski trip.
The bus driver, who survived the crash, reportedly told accident investigators that the brakes on the bus were faulty. The tour company which operated the bus has not yet commented on why a bus with faulty brakes was allowed to navigate mountain roads full of passengers, but they will probably wait until the investigation is over to comment on the matter.
The southwest bus crash reportedly occurred less than 24 hours after another bus crash was reported on the east coast.
East Coast Crash
The east coast crash was caused when the bus hit an overpass while it traveled on a road that was too big to travel on. Apparently, the driver involved failed to heed roadway warnings intended for oversize vehicles.
In all, 34 people were injured in the east coast crash, one with reportedly life-threatening injuries and three more with serious injuries. The passengers, in this case, were a group of high school students and adult chaperones on a weekend college visit. While an investigation will determine whether or not the driver in the east coast crash should face more serious charges, investigators were at least certain that he would be cited for operating a vehicle in violation of height requirements.
Tour Bus Collides with Tree
Reports indicate that a tour bus lost control and crashed on a mountain road, citing unsafe speed as the cause of the accident. In all, 16 people reported injuries, with 15 of those injuries described as minor to moderate. The passengers on the bus were members of a tour group coming back from Yosemite National Park — the driver of the bus was the only person not hurt.
The crash was reported sometime around 6 p.m. Highway Patrol officials went on to report that the impact of the collision caused most of the passengers to be thrown to the driver’s side of the bus before the bus struck a tree — had it not been for the tree, the bus would have no doubt fallen into a nearby ravine. The area where the crash occurred is a winding road with speed limits that seem to drop to 35 mph with little to no warning.
Officials from the California Highway Patrol indicated that while unsafe speed appears to have been the main contributing factor to the crash, the incident remains under investigation while potential other causes are looked into. The driver was not arrested, and drugs or alcohol do not immediately seem to have played a factor.
Tour Bus Safety
In the case mentioned above, reports indicated that the area of road where the incident occurred was a winding road, and that speed limits tend to drop to 35 mph without much warning. While this may be a fact that would perhaps minimize the liability of an at-fault driver involved in a car vs. car collision, the fact that the driver was a dedicated one for a tour bus company is something that the courts will no doubt consider. Typically, tour bus drivers are trained on their routes, or at least warned of the dangers on certain unfamiliar routes. If this accident is eventually found to have been avoidable, this fact will be of much importance when it comes to determining fault and apportioning damages.
Preventable Bus Accidents
What’s perhaps most interesting to note is that the buses in both cases had no business being on the roads on which they were when they crashed. The bus involved in the southwest crash should have been parked until its brakes were repaired, and the bus involved in the east coast crash should never have been traveling on the road leading up to the overpass under which it could not fit. In both cases, a lack of common sense on the part of bus drivers/owners/operators appears to have at least played a factor.
Bus passengers generally aren’t in control of bus inspections or deciding routes, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t do anything to prepare for a bus-involved accident.
Many buses don’t have seat belts, but some do. If seat belts are provided onboard, they should be engaged properly whenever the bus is in motion. If not, passengers should maintain a sturdy point of contact with the bus at all times. A sturdy point of contact is a handlebar or wrist strap that passengers are intended to hold on to while the bus is in motion. If a passenger is seated, the seat in front of him or her can be as good a point of contact as any, especially if unexpected turbulence is experienced.
Finally, if actually involved in a crash, passengers should remain on the bus and wait for emergency responders. Exiting the bus on a crowded roadway without the assistance of emergency responders greatly exposes passengers to the risk of being struck by a passerby who may not be aware of pedestrians.