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What you need to know about bus accidents

Buses appear to be the safest way to commute these days since they look big, convenient and careful. However, this can often be misleading, because they do get in accidents, and often too. This risk with buses is largely due to their size and weight. The average weight of a fully loaded school bus is about 42,000 pounds with an average passenger weight of about 3000 pounds.

We represented a lot of clients throughout the years that got injured on a bus. In many of these cases, our clients themselves or their loved ones were involved in needless traffic accidents. We have however helped these clients find justice and recover compensation for the damage done to them. In this article, you will learn all about the causes of bus accidents and your rights in the event of a bus accident. You will also learn how to exercise these rights.

Major causes of Seattle bus accidents

Despite their risk factor, bus accidents do not just happen. They are caused by certain factors. The following are some of the major causes of bus accidents in the United States:

  • Bus company negligence: Negligence is a breach of duty. The motor coach industry in the U.S serves as many individuals as the airline industry. However, despite the huge figures involved, the record keeping and bus inspection protocols adopted by these companies are obviously not as stringent as airlines. A defective bus part may not be discovered by the purchasing party until it has been in an accident. Poor maintenance also contributes to the risk factor in accidents. Old fashion buses may not have seat belts or brakes good enough to minimize impact in a bus crash.
  • Blind spots: Blind spots are very common for buses because of their size. Certain sides of the bus would go unnoticed as even the mirrors provided may not cover such areas. This may cause accidents especially with cyclists and other smaller vehicles.
  • Reckless driving: While there are many laws attempting to regulate bus driving, reckless driving still occurs. Reckless driving may also be in the form of over speeding or swerving across lanes indiscriminately.
  • Failure to obey traffic rules: Traffic rules are there for the benefits of every road user including cyclists and pedestrians. Many accidents could have been averted had the driver obeyed traffic rules like speed limits or traffic lights. Running a traffic light may cause confusion and accidents.  
  • Driving under the influence: Driving under the influence increases the risk factors in accidents. The driver’s awareness is impaired and his attentiveness cannot be guaranteed.
  • Bus driver fatigue: Fatigue is reported as a top highway killer in the U.S. Drivers. Those with obstructive sleep apnea are reported to have over two times greater risk of having a highway accident than drivers without sleep apnea.

How many school bus accidents are there every year?

There can be a bit of confusion with exactly how many bus accidents happen per year. This is because there are many crashes that do not get reported. In fact, according to this report by Accident Data Center, many tour and city bus crashes go unreported. Speculations have been made as to why these crashes go unreported. Popular opinion is that bus companies may benefit from keeping bus crash statistics down for a variety of reasons. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that in 2015, there were a total of 257 fatal bus crashes with 190 deaths from transit buses and school buses. The report also states that approximately 98 people died in crashes involving a school vehicle but only 9% of those were bus passengers.

Should seat belts be required on school buses?

An average of 6 kids die as passengers on a school bus every year. Some say this could have been averted if seat belts were not only provided but made mandatory and its use monitored on buses. Seat belt laws have been enacted in 49 states of the United States since as far back as the sixties. These laws make the use of seatbelts in cars and light trucks mandatory. The use of seatbelts on these categories of automobiles have proved successful over time and calls have been made to extend the law to school buses.

In the US, New York state requires that seat belts be installed on school buses manufactured after July 1987 but does not mandate the passengers to wear them. The US federal laws define two types of seat belts for school buses: lap belts and three point belts. Lap belts are adjustable belts that are drawn across the passenger’s lap, similar to those on airplanes. Three point belts are the ones usually installed in vehicles. In the NHTSA rule published in 2008, Minimum seat belt height was increased and installation of lap or shoulder belt on school buses was made mandatory for small school buses. Performance criteria was also established for seat belts voluntarily installed on large buses.

Reporting a bad driver

There are signs of bad or reckless driving. Some of them are driving above the speed limit, weaving between cars and lanes or ignoring traffic signals. Other signs include tailgating, road rage, street racing, driving between lanes etc. If you notice a bus driver doing any of these, you should immediately report the occurrence. This report could be to the driver’s employer or to the police. However, you must be sure that you are reporting a serious traffic violation and you believe there is serious risk of an accident. You should take note of the bus model, license plate and any other information on the outside of the bus. Some buses have phone numbers on their “How’s my driving” sticker that you can call in the event of reckless driving. Do not follow the bus, it may get you into needless trouble or road rage. You can call the police in your car and give them the information you have taken down as well as other information they may require.

Are there remedies available to victims of a bus accident?

If you’ve been in an accident or you lost a loved one in a bus accident, you may take legal action for compensation. If you are desirous of doing so, it is advised that you do so in a timely manner. Personal injury claims have a statue of limitation. This means you may be barred from obtaining compensation if you delay.

Contact the best auto accident attorneys in Seattle

If you have been involved in a Seattle or New York bus accident, you stand the best chance of a favorable outcome with our experienced legal team. Our lawyers at Oshan and Associates are skilled at personal injury law and have extensive knowledge in bus injuries. Take advantage of our free no-obligation consultation to start a conversation with us today. Call us on 206-335-3880 to book your consultation.