While buses are a cheaper alternative to flying, particularly when traveling
shorter distances, they lack many of the same safety precautions. According
to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute,
approximately 63,000 buses are involved in accidents each year, resulting
in 14,000 injuries and 325 fatalities.
A new report into the deadly California bus crash that killed ten people
last year revealed that the bus company never provided the required safety
instructions, which would have included how to exit the bus in the event
of a crash. The bus collided with a tractor-trailer and burst into flames,
killing five students, three chaperones and the drivers of the bus and truck.
As reported by WRAL.com, an initial report released by the National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that all of the students questioned by investigators
reported that the bus drivers failed to tell them about emergency exit
windows. In addition, the drivers did not show the passengers a safety
video, as required by Silverado Stages’ policy.
The NTSB report further stated more than half of the 29 students interviewed
didn't know which windows served as emergency exits and were forced
to break other panels to escape the bus. The bus crash victims all described
the chaos that erupted in the wake of the collision as passengers tried
to escape the burning bus.
While investigators have yet to determine what caused the deadly bus accident,
the crash highlights the need for
tougher bus safety regulations. As safety advocates argue, many tour buses carry as many passengers as
airplanes but offer few of the same protections due to lack of oversight.
In 1999, the NTSB recommended new regulations that would require large
buses to make design changes so that passengers could easily open windows
and emergency exits. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
(NHTSA) also proposed bus evacuation regulations. However, the new safety
standards never came to fruition.
“Unfortunately, motorcoach safety has historically been an orphan
at NHTSA,” said Jim Hall, the former chair of the NTSB who signed
the 1999 recommendation. “This is the transportation that carries
primarily older people, students and low-income people. It hasn’t
been a priority (for regulators).”
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego bus
or motor vehicle accident, don’t hesitate to
contacta San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.