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 which it 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.
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 which it could not fit under. 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 on board, 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 which 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.
Bus Accident Lawsuits
Bus drivers owe a higher duty of care to passengers than private vehicle operators. California law is very strict when it comes to providing the utmost duty of care to passengers, therefore companies and drivers who act negligently are often held liable for injuries. Cases in which a bus or the fleet of buses fails federal inspections are bound to end up in litigation.