According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), there were 5,025 motor bus accidents in 2019. In these motor bus accidents, there were 6,673 people injured and 65 fatalities. As buses are such large, imposing vehicles on the road, bus accidents are not only traumatic but also cause a range of injuries, such as:
- Arm or leg injuries (i.e. lacerations, cuts, muscle damage, nerve damage, bruises, etc.)
- Burn injuries
- Chest injuries (i.e. sternal fracture, internal bleeding, strained muscles, respiratory distress, etc.)
- Head or face injuries (i.e. ear injuries, eye injuries, nose injuries, jaw or tooth injuries, facial injuries, etc.)
- Pelvic injuries (i.e. broken pelvis, pelvic fracture, hip fractures, etc.)
- Spinal cord injuries (i.e. fractured vertebrae, herniated or ruptured discs, whiplash, paralysis, etc.)
- Traumatic brain injuries (i.e. concussions, contusions, hematomas, etc.)
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
Bus drivers, bus companies, maintenance companies, other drivers/people on the road, and public entities owe bus passengers a duty of care and should act responsibly to ensure the passengers’ safety. However, any of these parties may act negligently, which can lead to an accident. Frequent causes of bus accidents include:
- Defective bus equipment. The company that manufactured the bus equipment may have acted negligently by not adequately creating the equipment. In either case, the defective equipment may cause the bus to malfunction and thus, an accident.
- Distracted driving. If a bus driver or someone else on the road is distracted by passengers, their phone or GPS, grooming, eating, or any other activities, an accident can easily occur. One second of inattention can mean one less second to react to a driver swerving into their lane or to bring their vehicle to a stop.
- Driver fatigue. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence as fatigued drivers are just as likely to engage in reckless driving practices or fall asleep at the wheel. While there are regulations concerning how long a driver can be on the road and when breaks are required, many drivers or companies may ignore these laws.
- Improper vehicle inspections. Before getting on the road, drivers should conduct a vehicle inspection to ensure that everything is in working order. Without a proper inspection, a bus driver may take out a bus with serious issues.
- Improper vehicle maintenance. The bus company or maintenance company may have acted negligently by not properly maintaining or inspecting the bus, which may lead to bus parts or equipment not working properly.
- Negligent hiring. If a company hires an inexperienced or untrained driver, they are putting their passengers and others on the road in danger. An untrained bus driver will likely not understand a bus’s limitations and may not handle and drive the bus as they should, which can leave to an accident.
- Reckless driving. If drivers or others on the road ignore traffic signals or the rules of the road, an accident can occur. Drivers who engage in other reckless driving practices, like speeding or tailgating can also cause an accident.
- Weather or road conditions. If the roads are not well maintained or there is inclement weather, bus drivers may struggle to safely maneuver the streets. Improperly trained drivers may not be prepared to operate the bus in dangerous weather conditions or may not take precautions (i.e. slowing down, using their headlights, etc.) when they are on the road.
Safety Tip for Bus Drivers & Passengers
Many Georgians utilize MARTA buses as their primary form of transportation. Other licensed bus carriers commonly used include:
- Adirondack Trailways
- Akai Bus
- American Coach Lines
This list also doesn’t include the county or private school buses many minors use for transportation or other buses that may be utilized by businesses or churches to transport members or patrons. With so many people using buses as a means of transportation, it is important to understand what drivers and passengers can do to help ensure their safety. Here are some bus safety tips that may help save a life, including your own.
- Check your surroundings. Drivers and passengers should check their surroundings at all times. While driving, bus drivers should be prepared to drive defensively and should be aware of their surroundings. Passengers, while waiting for the bus and when getting on or off the bus, should also take care to board safely.
- Conduct a thorough vehicle inspection. As we mentioned, drivers should inspect their tires, blinkers, headlights, taillights, and their entire vehicle and equipment before getting on the road. Many companies have a formal checklist that their drivers must complete before and after their driving shifts, but they should conduct a check even if there isn’t a list.
- Don’t be a distraction. Passengers should avoid being rowdy or distracting the driver in any way. The bus driver may be distracted if they have to ask you to sit down or speak with you and dividing their attention can be dangerous for you and others on the road.
- Respect the vehicle’s limits. Bus drivers, with proper training, know how to handle their vehicles, and drivers should respect their bus’s limitations by driving with caution.
- Use safety restraints. If there are seatbelts, handrails, or safety restraints, drivers and passengers should use them. In the event of an accident, they can be lifesaving.
Get Legal Help
At The Dickinson Law Firm, our attorneys have over 40 years of collective experience, and we are dedicated to fighting for your rights. If you or a loved one are injured in a bus accident that is the result of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation to account for your economic and non-economic damages (i.e. medical expenses, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, etc.). Once you retain our services, we can help you:
- Investigate the accident
- Establish liability
- Calculate your damages
- Build your case
- Negotiate or litigate
Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling a consultation online or via phone (770) 766-7739 today.