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California Bus Crash Victims Did Not Receive Proper Safety Instructions

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, 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.