A charter bus accident resulted in nine deaths and 44 injuries after the casino-bound driver lost control of a rain-slicked highway in Texas. The bus flipped, ejecting numerous passengers onto the pavement. Seven were declared dead at the scene. An eighth died later that day at the hospital. The ninth, an 83-year-old man, died of his injuries more than a week later.
The crash, one of the deadliest in the Lone Star State’s history, occurred just before 11:30 a.m., some 50 miles outside of Laredo. The group was reportedly just 15 miles away from their destination.
Authorities have not said if weather was a definite factor in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was launching an investigation outside the one being conducted by state troopers. All investigators could say at this point was that the driver lost control. A spokesperson with NTSB told NBC News that the bus did have an anti-lock brake system, but it wasn’t active because the system wasn’t mandated at the time the bus was manufactured. It’s unclear whether that may have made a difference in this case.
Almost guaranteed, though, this was a tragedy that could have been prevented. The vast majority of all crashes are caused by human error. While there are many excellent commercial bus drivers, we also know that often, they are under enormous pressure to travel long distances with little rest and perhaps not much training.
As we roll into summer, when charter buses are at their peak use for long-distance travel, it’s important to understand the potential risks associated with charter bus travel.
Commercial motor carriers are regulated and overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The agency’s most recent available report on Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts from 2014 asserts that the number of vehicle miles traveled increased by 5.5 percent year-over-year, and yet the number of fatal bus crashes fell from 282 to 234 year-over-year.
Still, there are serious concerns that commercial firms who fail to abide by certain safety standards are still operational.
An analysis by ESPN of 85 schools whose sports teams regularly use charter buses to ferry between games found that 35 used commercial carrier companies that had been given a “conditional” rating. That means they have a record of serious infractions. It’s a step below a “satisfactory rating,” and it’s the point at which industry regulators advise against using the company. And yet these are the companies with whom we’re trusting our student athletes?
Some of the problems noted among these less-than-stellar carriers include:
- A history of bus accidents;
- Faulty brakes;
- Worn tires;
- Drivers who are unqualified or unsupervised;
- Drivers who are popped for speeding on the job;
- Drivers violating hours of service requirements;
- Drivers whose log books are incomplete;
- Emergency exits that are inoperable;
- Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Unlike school bus drivers, who aren’t paid by the trip, commercial charter bus companies may push drivers to complete more runs in a shorter period of time in order to drive down costs and increase the number of trips each bus/ driver can make. But that puts passengers’ safety at risk of injury in a bus crash.
The FMCSA urges the public to, “Look Before You Book” when it comes to searching for a charter bus company with a good track record.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
At least 8 killed, 44 injured in Texas bus accident, May 15, 2016, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Greenville Car Accident Kills ECU Student, May 19, 2016, North Carolina Bus Accident Lawyer Blog