Serious Safety Questions Linger in the Tour Bus Industry After Fatal Wrecks

Tour buses have crashed with an alarming regularity on the highways of the United States, causing considerable loss of life.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced some high-profile crackdowns in recent years, the bus crashes keep occurring.

The most recent serious bus wreck took place in California in October. A bus crashed into the back of a truck at a high rate of speed, according to reports. I was appalled to read about the high loss of life and severe injuries in this crash. The crash left 13 dead and 31 injured.

A subsequent report in the Chicago Tribune stated a maintenance crew had slowed traffic down on Interstate 10 shortly before the crash just north of Palm Springs.  The work had gone on for hours without incident police said before the bus crash.

Poor maintenance and inadequate driver training or hiring or driver fatigue have been linked to bus crashes.

In August, another tour bus crashed on California’s Highway 99, killing four people. Media reports revealed the bus driver had multiple past violations including driving a bus with a suspended license.

There is a massive need for improvements in the regulation of buses that operate on America’s highways. Over the past decade, a rise in the number of low-cost operators has not been accompanied by an increase in oversight.

Many of the buses that have been involved in crashes have been going to and from casinos.

Safety experts warn that bus regulations and safety oversight have failed to keep pace with the growth in the industry. Even basic improvements have been very slow in being implemented.

One example is the rule that requires new buses to be equipped with seat belts. This change finally went into place last month but was first advocated after a 1968 bus crash in California which killed 19 people.

The bus involved in October’s crash in California was not equipped with seat belts. The older buses operating on America’s highways will not have seatbelts for years to come.

Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board issued a warning after the recent crash in California. He said.

We don’t invest into doing an adequate job to protect people from incidents like this. The individuals who ride buses are at lower income levels of our society concerns me. We should ensure that we have the same safety standards for everyone.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is woefully understaffed to enforce the bus industry. According to reports it has 1,140 employees to oversee 525,000 companies across the nation. It relies heavily on state law-enforcement teams to carry out inspections and hand out citations.

Safety standards in the bus industry lag far behind those in the airline industry, for example.

Bus operators can be held liable for driver errors, fatigue or poor maintenance. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident of any kind in Virginia, we would like to hear from you. Call us today at (757) 455-0077.

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