Whether you’re getting somewhere in a big city or riding to school, buses are a common form of transportation. For the most part, buses are safe methods of getting from point A to point B.
However, as with any vehicle on the road, bus accidents often happen. With such large, heavy vehicles, buses also come with a lot of risk.
These types of crashes often involve many people and families, making them tragic and more prone to personal injury, property damage and even fatalities. Keep reading below to discover the most common causes of bus accidents and who might be responsible in certain cases.
Why the Cause of a Bus Accident Is Important
When a bus accident occurs, it’s important to determine the cause. This will also identify who is responsible for the damages on a legal basis. That person will be responsible for the victim’s damages and any medical expenses that result from the crash.
Buses are heavy vehicles on the road and when they get in accidents, it causes more serious damage than a smaller car, due to the weight and size. Property damage is also common in a bus crash and the party responsible for the crash will need to pay for this damage as well.
Due to the size of a bus accident, it can bring more work to a bus accident lawyer, insurance companies, and adjusters. There are many types of personal injury claims, including bus accidents.
Oftentimes, it is a personal injury attorney who will handle the insurance companies. This means the victim is able to focus on recovery. Whether a bus crash resulted in a minor injury or a tragic fatality, determining the cause of the crash will be important.
Common Causes of Bus Accidents
The causes of bus accidents are similar to car crashes, but typically result in more damage. If the bus driver is at fault, it could be due to driver distraction, intoxication, speeding, and general driving inexperience.
The bus company may also be at fault due to the routine bus inspections that might have been skipped or other non-compliance issues.
Other causes could be due to mother nature with weather and dangerous road conditions being a factor. The driver could also be distracted by looking at a phone and not the road.
Countless families grieve when bus accidents happen. Below are the most common causes of bus accidents that you should be aware of.
Bus Company Negligence
The bus industry is regulated, but the requirements are not as strict as you might think. While buses service nearly as many people as airplanes, the inspection protocols are not as strict. This can result in accidents from older equipment.
Record keeping requirements are also not as strict as you might think, and bus companies often own a bus fleet that ages without enough safety equipment.
Buses might have poor maintenance and might be focused on the company’s bottom line, rather than public safety.
Some buses, like older school buses or city buses, don’t have seat belts and other safety measures. This means during a crash, the risk of injury or death is much higher.
Whether it’s a bus or a car, vehicles require routine inspections that keep the mechanics up to date. Even if a bus company keeps up with inspections, it’s still possible to have mechanical failure that causes an accident.
Some bus companies are also not focused on training bus drivers. This might mean that training is shorter or not as intense as it could be, resulting in inexperienced people driving large buses on the roads.
Bus Driver Negligence or Distraction
Even if drivers have been fully trained, bus companies cannot control their actions once they’re on the road. Negligence, distracted driving and reckless driving are possible. Bus drivers might be ignoring the laws of the road.
Laws are in place to regulate these buses, but many drivers ignore them, especially if they are tour buses or charter buses.
There are regulations that determine how long a bus driver can be on the road. They’re also required to take breaks, but this could all be ignored. There’s also a limit on their speed and turning technique, according to the standards.
It’s pretty obvious that anyone on the road shouldn’t be driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, but it’s especially dangerous for someone driving many people in a large bus.
A driver might also be distracted by their cell phone, and could be making calls or texts.
There are many other types of distractions that a bus driver can encounter. A school bus driver is there to not only drive, but also monitor the children on the bus. School bus accidents tragically do happen due to the level of distraction.
City bus drivers have a similar responsibility of monitoring the people on the bus, but this could even include violent people who are disturbing others.
It’s the responsibility of the driver to make sure everyone on the bus is safe, but transit bus accidents still occur.
It’s also possible that the driver was not properly trained. In this case, the responsibility falls back on the bus company who is responsible for training the drivers.
Bus Driver Errors
Other errors can also occur while driving that are separate from being distracted or negligent. A bus driver might be speeding, which drastically increases the chances of an accident.
Speeding is particularly dangerous on a bus. This can often happen, especially with charter buses when they are rushing to get to the final destination. These types of bus accidents often happen and are due to driver error.
The driver might also be failing to follow general road laws, like following traffic signs and passing other vehicles in an improper way.
Again, this could also all relate back to not being trained enough, and could fall back on the bus company.
Bus Driver Exhaustion
Driver fatigue is another common area of negligence. A driver might be exhausted from their personal life or is working more hours than they should be.
These drivers are putting many people at risk by taking the bus onto the road or highway when feeling tired. By closing their eyes for a few seconds, usually accidentally, they can cause a major accident.
Fatigue and sleep apnea is the most common killer on US highways. If bus drivers struggle with sleep apnea, they could be putting themselves and their passengers at risk, along with other people on the roads.
It’s also possible that the city or company the driver works for is not considering this issue when making a work schedule. This type of negligence can cause bus crashes.
Even if bus companies over-schedule their workers, it’s the responsibility of the drivers to ensure they aren’t too exhausted to drive a bus full of people on a busy highway.
Bad Weather and Road Conditions
There are other factors, like bad weather and poor road conditions, that are outside the control of the bus driver or bus company.
Hazardous weather, including rain storms, snow, hail and sleet can cause slick roads. The weight of a bus makes it difficult to maneuver the roads during these conditions and can often cause crashes and wrecks.
The weight and size of a bus also makes it difficult to drive if there are also poor road conditions, like potholes. Smaller, narrow streets also make it hard for buses to drive on and make clean turns.
Damaged roads and asphalt can also cause bus accidents. Even construction can cause issues for buses to navigate through.
However, bus drivers should still be trained properly in how to operate a bus in bad weather and road conditions. This type of training should be included in the bus company’s hiring process, and put in place before hitting the roads.
Blind Spots and Left Turns on Buses
Buses have many blind spots and this is another common cause of accidents. The mirrors on buses are meant to eliminate most blind spots, but there are still areas that cannot be seen while on the bus.
These blind spots and the size of a bus also makes left turns more difficult. Left-turn accidents are one of the most common types of bus crashes.
Drivers are trained on how to lean and determine the weight requirements of a bus to help prevent these types of crashes. However, driver error means that this can often not be enough training and accidents still happen.
Other Cars and Reckless Drivers on the Roads
There are always things outside of our control on the roads, especially including other drivers. While a bus driver might be focused and well-trained, they might still encounter a distracted driver in another car.
Another driver could also be failing to follow traffic laws and could be speeding. If this happens and they crash into a bus, it could cause a serious accident.
If you’re on the road and see a bus, keep in mind that they have many blind spots. It’s important to not get too close to a bus. Also, quickly merging in front of a bus or cutting them off can be a recipe for an accident.
There are other issues that might be out of another driver’s control, like their own car having mechanical failure. If this happens on a highway in front of a bus, it can cause a huge accident and potential fatalities.
Defective Bus Equipment, Tire Issues and Bus Fires
As stated above, there are regulations required by bus companies to follow to maintain mechanical safety.
Bus companies do routine safety checks, but mechanical issues could be missed. The company might also not be following strict enough standards.
Equipment failure can cause issues on the bus like tires popping and bus fires. These can both be deadly on a large bus carrying many people.
Bus fires are extremely dangerous, especially for people who are sitting at the rear of the bus and might not be able to exit, or the escape hatch might be too small. Smoke and fume inhalation can cause death.
These types of fires occur from either the engine or the tires and wheel wells, which is usually due to maintenance failure. Dirty engines that are covered in grease or oil might cause a leak and can result in a fire.
Tire accidents are usually due to under-inflated tires with low air pressure. When this happens, the heat from the highway can build quickly and start a fire.
How to File a Claim After a Bus Accident
Whatever the cause of the bus accident, it’s a scary and sometimes fatal occurrence. These accidents are reported to the police, and if you are involved as a passenger, you can file a claim.
A bus crash lawyer will be able to help you navigate through the case, especially if you are injured. After the crash, be sure to contact a lawyer and get started on the process of filing a claim.
Write down any details you can remember and take photos of your injuries. Keep other documents, like medical reports as well.
Bus accidents are unfortunate and very scary. When they happen, it’s important to report it and for the report to determine the cause. Keep reading here to learn more about other important topics relating to your life!