What is involved in a claim involving a Bus Accident?

Passenger bus crashes kill hundreds of people every year and injure thousands more. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 761 fatal passenger bus crashes in the U.S. from 2007 to 2009, killing 890 people. Bus crashes injured many more people in the same period of time: According to FMCSA data, about 68,000 passengers were injured in a total of 31,000 bus crashes nationwide. http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/facts-research/CMV-Facts.pdf

In addition to compiling national bus-crash data, the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have jointly conducted a bus crash causation study to determine what factors lead to bus crashes. The study, which focused on 40 bus crashes that occurred in New Jersey during a one-year period from 2005 to 2006, found that the majority of bus crashes involved commercial motor coach buses (26), which typically travel long distance, followed by transit bus crashes (5), which follow a regular intercity route.

The Bus Crash Causation Study found that many of the bus crashes were linked to the driver’s condition (fatigue, health issues) and decisions, with inadequate surveillance, inattention, driving too fast, and following too closely being the most often cited reasons for driver-linked crashes. Other vehicles and pedestrians entering the roadway, vehicular failure (bus fires, brake failure), environmental and roadway conditions (slippery, wet roads), and roadway design features were also found to be contributing factors to the bus crashes studied.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and a number of safety organizations have called for improvements to the buses themselves to help reduce the risk of injury and death in the event of a bus crash. Better roof-crush and rollover protections have been on the NTSB’s “Most Wanted” list since 1999.

“Adequate standards for roof strength, window glazing, and occupant protection must be developed and implemented,” the NTSB says, adding that these measures would ensure buses maintain “survivable space” for occupants during all types of crashes with significant crash forces, including rollovers.

Manufacturers include seatbelts on most buses made today, but the federal government has not yet mandated them. That means, unless they are a year or two old, most of the buses traveling on U.S. highways offer no seatbelt protection.

Despite these risks, bus travel is still considered one of the safest forms of transportation. However, a USA Today investigative report cautions that the number of fatal motor coach crashes that actually occur on U.S. highways is actually much higher than the numbers officially recorded by federal safety agencies. The USA Today report found that the NHTSA “has undercounted motor coach accidents and deaths on the nation's highways since at least 1995 and has given the inaccurate numbers in testimony before Congress and in public reports on bus safety.”

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