A series of recent fatal accidents involving bus companies has led to an increase in inspections to avoid similar problems in the future. The Obama administration, led by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has recently increased the number of comprehensive safety reviews performed on motor coaches in an effort to make the roads safer.
A tour bus crash in New York that killed 15 people in part sparked the increased inspections and citations. The crash occurred in early 2011 when a tour bus was returning to New York from a casino in Connecticut. The driver tried to swerve to miss a truck, but was unable to maintain control over the vehicle. The bus flipped and ran into a support pole for a sign, which sliced it end-to-end. Fifteen of the passengers, all adults, were killed. The tragedy led to an increased focus on making coach buses safer.
In the past two years, the DOT has issued more imminent hazard orders than it has in the previous 10 years combined, which shows that the department is working harder to make the roads and buses safer. An imminent hazard order is issued following a roadside inspection that discovers bus safety violations that create an emergency situation such that allowing the bus to continue operating would constitute an imminent hazard. Eight out of the 14 imminent hazard orders came after the New York crash and after the agency crackdown.
Also increasing is the number of motor coach compliance reviews, which were up 125 percent in 2010. Motor coach roadside inspections have jumped nearly 100 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the DOT.
While these statistics show an overall increase, a closer look shows that some of the increases are not as significant as the recent spate of inspections and reviews make it appear. For instance, the compliance reviews actually peaked in 2008 at 1,305, and then dropped to 1,287 in 2009 and again to 1,042 in 2010. However, the trend overall is still upward, as only 457 reviews occurred in 2005. This is still a statistically insignificant number of comprehensive reviews given that there are approximately 700,000 motor carriers in the US.
Unfortunately, despite the new focus on safety, bus accidents are still occurring at an alarming rate. If you or a loved one has been in a bus accident, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss obtaining financial compensation for medical expenses and other damages.