Every year, thousands of passengers are injured in bus accidents caused by fatigued or inexperienced bus drivers, or malfunctioning components.
Traveling by bus is convenient and inexpensive, which makes it one of the more popular modes of transportation inside the United States. However, many bus passengers suffer from a false sense of security because they’re traveling in a large and heavy vehicle.
In 2012, a review of official government records found that the number of actual bus accidents in the United States was much higher than the official government records. In fact, the review found that many fatal bus accidents every year are never included in the federal administration’s official tally of accidents, because the vehicles involved in these accidents did not meet the official definition of a “motor coach.” Those accidents that never made it to the official tally include a 2003 bus accident in Louisiana that killed 8 people.
What this means is that bus travel may not be as safe as bus tour operators and the federal administration make it out to be.
Causes of Bus Accidents
Driver fatigue has emerged as one of the biggest factors affecting commercial vehicle safety, including bus safety. Commercial bus drivers who travel for hours, without a break, may be at a serious risk of dozing off at the wheel, placing the lives and safety of their passengers at serious risk.
Bus Driver Negligence
Commercial motor vehicle companies are required to employ responsible hiring practices when they hire their bus drivers. A bus driver needs to be not just experienced and trained, but must have a good safety record. Often, those hiring practices are compromised with, which results in inexperienced, inadequately trained drivers finding positions behind the wheel. Many bus accidents every year can be linked to drivers who are driving above the speed limit, driving under the influence of alcohol, or making serious driving errors.
Malfunctioning Bus Parts
As a heavy commercial motor vehicle that travels hundreds of miles every day, a commercial motor vehicle can be placed under severe stress. Buses must be placed in a regular maintenance program that helps identify and locate defective and malfunctioning parts as quickly as possible. Some of the parts that can malfunction are the tires which are only part of the bus that are in direct contact with the road surface, steering, brakes, and lights.
Many highways in the country are designed poorly, or have outgrown their original design, making them unsafe for heavy commercial use. Buses may be at a higher risk of accidents, when they have steep curves and sharp turns to navigate, or when the highway is much too long and flat, possibly raising the risk of driver fatigue while driving.