Faulty Equipment Is Often the Tragic Cause of Bus Accidents
Faulty equipment is one of the most tragic causes of bus accidents. Safety checks are often rushed through, and repairs are regularly delayed. A failure to perform the necessary vehicle maintenance often results in brake failure and engine fires. Simply put, unexpected events happen when maintenance falls behind. It is the responsibility of the bus company to keep a bus properly maintained and in top condition. These are not simply hopeful wishes, but mandates placed on commercial motor vehicle carriers by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the school bus transportation system is one of the largest and safest transit systems in the United States. About 480,000 yellow school buses provide transportation service daily. Data shows that more than 26 million children ride buses to their secondary and elementary schools twice a day each year. However, about 17,000 children end up in emergency rooms as a result of school bus-related injuries, and an average of six children are killed in school bus crashes each year.
Recent Bus Accidents
In Colombia, a bus with mostly children as passengers caught fire on May 20, 2014, with devastating results. This happened shortly after the bus picked up children from a church nearby. Thirty-one children and one adult died in the deadly fire.
In March, 2014, it took minutes for an electrical fire to release flames and pitch black smoke in a bus on 7800 Blocks, Yates Avenue in Maple Grove. The bus was transporting children to Elm Creek Elementary School in Maple Grove at the time of the accident. The driver managed to save the children.
A college tour in California ended in a fiery wreck on Thursday, April 10, 2014, leaving ten dead. A FedEx tractor-trailer truck slammed into a bus carrying students in Northern California, killing three chaperones, five high-school students and the drivers of both vehicles. According to a news report, more than thirty people, mostly teenagers, were taken to the local hospitals. The students were traveling to take part in a program at the Humboldt State University. Their journey ended tragically ninety miles north of Sacramento.
Students managed to escape a bus fire in Hinesburg on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The Mount Abraham Union Middle School track teams were on their way to meet in Winooski when the fire began. When the driver noticed the bus had caught fire, he pulled over and all the students managed to get off unharmed.
Reasons Why Busses Crash
Equipment defects and lack of passenger protection are common causes for bus accidents. Accidents can also happen when maintenance is overlooked or rushed. Buses are expensive to maintain and companies often delay or make use of cheaper ways to save on costs. Improper bus maintenance and using illegal replacement parts can result in unexpected accidents.
Faulty electronics and safety systems are some of the most common causes of accidents. Tires are sometimes over or under-inflated and can cause blowouts. It is the responsibility of the bus company to keep the bus properly maintained and in top condition.
Other common causes of bus accidents include bus driver fatigue, alcohol, speeding, inexperience, road conditions and driver negligence or distraction. Driver errors often include illegal turning, driving too fast for conditions or failing to check blind spots. A fatigued bus driver is extremely dangerous and more likely to make driving errors.
According to the findings of a report issued by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep causes an increased likelihood of accidents. Some bus companies use fatigue warning devices that can monitor a driver’s eyelids. As soon as the device senses an unsafe pattern, an alarm will warn the driver. Bus drivers should always be properly rested and drive within the number of hours mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Speeding makes it more difficult for buses to stop due to the increased size and weight. Many bus companies equip their buses with speed governors, but in the case where the quest for profits overrides safety, these devices are not used.
Distracted driving is when a bus driver is texting, adjusting navigation devices, talking on their mobile phones or eating while driving. Although hard to believe, some drivers choose to ignore the law and risk the lives of the passengers.
Safety Tips for School Children
The National School Transportation Association offers tips to help children who ride school buses to stay safe. Before you cross the street in front of a bus, always make sure the driver can see you. Tell the bus driver if you drop something near the bus. The driver may not be able to see you when you try to pick it up. An adult should supervise children at a bus stop. It is also important for children to wait until the bus has fully stopped before approaching the bus. Parents should always encourage their children to sit still on a bus.