Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

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Child Fatally Injured When School Bus Flips

Last week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on a terribly sad Georgia school bus accident. With little detail but that the bus flipped on its side after traveling on a downhill curve on the road, we learned that a six year old child died after being taken to the hospital. The tragedy of one child being fatally injured is extremely painful for all involved. The community and her family are most certainly going through a very difficult time. Her classmates will need support after witnessing this bus accident. Thankfully, the other children on the bus were not injured seriously. Several of them and the driver had minor injuries only. This type of bus accident can happen anywhere, from Gwinnett County and across the state. When it does, there is great sadness in its wake.

When we send our children to school on the school bus, it is unthinkable that they might not return home safely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gathers statistics on many aspects of our highway safety. The school bus statistics gathered over a nearly ten year period show that school buses are relatively safe. Although we all would prefer that no child be harmed on a school bus, there are about 130 school bus fatalities per year in our country. A child is more likely to sustain a fatal injury in other types of vehicles than a school bus. These vehicles are built to protect the occupants.

School Bus Seat Belts are Not Required by Law

According to NHTSA, school kids are far more likely to be injured being driven to school in a passenger vehicle than being taken in a school bus. School buses are specifically mandated to have inherent safety features. For example, their color is most visible on the road. The seats create a compartmentalized protection for kids. The more dangerous part of the school bus experience is getting on and off the bus, which is why all states require the stop arms that are meant to keep drivers from driving past the bus while kids are present.

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1175023_magnoliaA recent bus accident has brought mourning to a community and reminds us of the fragility of life. We are deeply saddened to learn of a devastating crash that has left an Alabama community in shock, many injured and a young life taken. A teen church group awas on its way from Huntsville, Alabama to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for a mission trip to Botswana when the bus overturned onto another vehicle. There is currently no information about what caused this accident and no information about those in the other vehicle.

The church bus had about 38 people on board, mostly teens and young adults. One report noted that 33 out of 38 passengers on the bus may have been injured and one teen lost her life. The reports are not clear on the precise numbers. We do know that many injured passengers were taken to various hospitals around Atlanta. Some were released after treatment. One report indicated that two victims sustained traumatic injuries and were still in the hospital. The young woman who lost her life in this bus crash was a recent high school graduate. Her family has shared some of her journal entries that reveal the fine person that she was. Apparently, she had only recently received a scholarship to Auburn University.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be taking on the investigation of this crash. The bus is not registered as a commercial vehicle with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Rather it is registered as a private passenger-non-business vehicle which carries different requirements than those associated with commercial vehicles. . The church has provided information to authorities saying that there were ten drivers for the three buses they own which are registered for interstate travel. The church apparently has no record of prior accidents or issues concerning their transportation history.

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iStock_000016429140XSmallThere are some tragedies that first responders say change them forever. We are certain that the bus crash that occurred recently in Chattanooga, Tennessee will be one of those. Six children perished when a school bus lost control and hit a tree. This past Thanksgiving weekend has been a time of shock, prayer and mourning for the families in Chattanooga. Elementary school children as young as kindergarten were on the bus. In the midst of the tragedy, the community immediately turned out to support the families of the children, donating blood and finding other ways to give to the bereaved families. The sadness continues as funerals take place for the young victims.

The driver has now been charged with vehicular homicide. The route he took the day of the tragedy has been determined not to be part of the official bus route. He had received his commercial license in April and was relatively new to driving a school bus. Records have been released that indicate that earlier this fall, several students complained about the driving and a parent did as well. The students said he tried to make them fall off their seats and swore at them. The driver also had complained in the past that students were not minding his instructions.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been at the crash site since the day after it occurred and is investigating all aspects of this monumental tragedy. One part of that investigation concerns “human performance” and whether the driver’s second job was causing fatigue. Apparently, he was also working at an Amazon fulfillment center. Other investigative work includes analysis of the mechanical and interior of the bus. The NTSB will analyze whether use of seat belts and the use of seat belts with shoulder belts would have made a difference in saving lives and avoiding injuries in this tragedy. The use of both seat belts and shoulder belts saved lives in a school bus crash in Anaheim, California a few years ago. The NTSB is seeking information from witnesses and will be interviewing parents and others.

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A horrific bus crash that took place in Texas this past week has investigators looking for answers. The crash was national news due to its severity. The bus was traveling between cities headed to a casino. The driver lost control of the bus and it rolled over. Eight fatalities and over 40 injuries were sustained as a result of this tragic accident. Those sustaining fatal injuries were ejected from the bus. Only five seats in the front of the bus were equipped with safety belts. Buses are not required to have seat belts, and ejection is not an uncommon occurrence in a major bus crash. The cause of the crash is under investigation and is not yet known. Although it may not have been raining at the time of the accident, the road was wet.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has noted that the bus was equipped with anti-lock brakes, but they may not have engaged in the crash. Anti-lock brakes help vehicles avoid skidding and help the driver maintain better control. This type of brake has been required on motor coaches and other large vehicles since 1998. This particular bus had anti-lock brakes installed, but it also may have had safety violations in the past.

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The Atlanta area has experienced its share of tragic accidents and their impact, including the heartbreaking accident that occurred two years ago in Florida in which several members of one Fulton County family were killed or injured. The loss of young life is always more difficult to comprehend. This morning we wake to the news that ten people have died, including teens, in a California crash. The crash occurred in the evening hours and involved a bus filled with Los Angeles area high school students on a trip to visit a college campus and a FedEx truck. The students were from various schools in the area and were already admitted to Humboldt State University. We pray that no additional lives are lost as a result of this accident. The first reports on this crash indicate that the FedEx tractor-trailor left its lane of traffic, possibly avoiding a small passenger car that was traveling ahead of the truck that was also at the scene. No one in that vehicle appears to have been injured. The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a team of investigators to the accident scene to begin an extensive investigation about why this tragedy occurred.

Authorities in California have advised that the drivers of both the bus, as well as the FedEx driver, were killed as the impact of the crash resulted in a horrific fire. Five students and three of their chaperones also lost their lives in this accident. The bus had been a charter that was arranged by a state university campus in northern California. Apparently, as the bus and the FedEx truck passed on a major interstate in California known as Interstate 5 which traverses the state in a north – south direction, the truck traveled across the highway divider and hit the bus.

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13329361961LpY40.jpgLate last fall, a deadly crash occurred involving a Gwinnett Transit bus and a FedEx vehicle. At the time of the accident, which tragically resulted in the death of the FedEx driver, it was determined by Atlanta authorities that the crash was caused by the bus as it went through a red light. The bus driver was seriously injured in the crash as well. The other devastating factor in this crash was that the impact of the two vehicles included the corner of what once was a church and had been renovated to house an upscale and architecturally interesting bar. The building’s foundation was damaged in the incident so severely that it has now been condemned and will be demolished in the near future. Until the building can be taken down, traffic is being diverted around the area due to its instability and the potential for falling debris.

We have all heard of vehicles crashing into homes and other structures due to a driver’s negligence, speeding, a medical condition or other situation in which the vehicle leaves the road and hits a home, business or other structure. In this crash, the vehicles collided in such a way as to hit the corner of the recently-remodeled historic building and the structure simply could not withstand the damage. The impact of these large vehicles created a situation that has now become so dangerous, the building must come down.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for emergencyvehicle.jpegThe Georgia Department of Public Safety has shut down the airport bus company that was recently involved in a significant collision at the airport. Readers will recall our post on this incident in which the shuttle bus driver and 16 passengers were injured. As I have found in my practice as an Atlanta bus accident lawyer, there were some factors involving the driver’s qualifications and the condition of the vehicle that were not up to safety standards.

The driver was not licensed to drive a commercial vehicle when the bus she was driving while making a u-turn on Loop Road near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, collided with a tractor trailer. The drivers of both vehicles were charged.

The state has ordered that the company involved, MTI Limo, suspend its operations until safety standards can be met. All of MTI’s vehicles, both limos and shuttle buses, have been taken off the road. At this point, there will be no transporting of the public until the company complies with all safety requirements and shows that all its drivers are properly licensed and are medically cleared to drive.

After the crash that took place in late May, state investigators got to work with safety inspections and found numerous violations within the MTI vehicle fleet. Their vehicles not only had brakes that did not pass inspections, they also had tires that were not in compliance and were going bald and drivers that were not properly licensed as was the case with the driver in the May crash.

The company says it is ready to correct its violations and safety record. They are quoted as stating that they will work with the state and federal regulators to ensure they are in full compliance.

The timing of the suspension comes on the heels of a major compliance push across the state. Earlier this month, the Motor Carrier Compliance Division (MCCD) of the Georgia Department of Public Safety teamed up with inspection officers from across the United States, Canada and Mexico for Roadcheck 2013. This is a yearly effort that promotes both the safety and the security on North American highways over a three-day enforcement push.

During the event this year, the focus was on cargo loading which is very important in the safety of large commercial vehicles. When cargo falls off a commercial vehicle or shifts while being driven, there can be grave consequences causing loss of control and instability.

Officers also performed “in-depth safety compliance inspections of passenger carrier vehicles such as limousines, shuttle buses, and motorcoaches as part of their annual “Commercial Vehicle Safety Plan.” Every day on Georgia’s roads, these inspections are taking place and are on the rise. They help to keep all of us safe on our roads and highways.

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Thumbnail image for Truck9.jpgThe College Park police issued warrants for those believe to have been involved in a hotel shuttle bus crash. The three persons for whom warrants were issued were expected to surrender yesterday. According to CBS Atlanta, the warrants were issued for a shuttle services manager and two drivers that they say were driving during a hotel shuttle bus crash last month. The accident occurred on Loop Road which is near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. In my work as an Atlanta bus accident lawyer, I know that the injuries involved can be serious.

This crash occurred late last month when a truck driver made a U-turn after realizing that he was going the wrong direction. During the turn, the shuttle bus hit the trailer of the truck. In this crash, the shuttle bus driver along with 16 passengers were injured. It is now suspected that the brakes on the bus may not have been in proper working order.

The truck driver is charged with several violations of Georgia law, including making an improper left turn and causing serious injuries with his motor vehicle. Under Georgia law, if you are driving recklessly (Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-390) and you cause serious injury to others, you can be charged under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-394 which defines serious injury as “bodily harm to another by depriving him of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof.” Bone fractures, burns, loss of consciousness and other physical issues can also constitute serious injuries in Georgia.

The shuttle driver is also facing charges. She is alleged to have been driving the shuttle without a proper Georgia driver’s license and operating a vehicle that was not safe.

The owner of the shuttle bus company stated that drivers are required to do a safety inspection of their shuttles before they take on passengers for the day. He apparently has already hired a safety consultant to help create safer traveling for all, but it is too late for this incident. He said he will be implementing improvements to ensure that drivers are properly licensed with commercial licenses and perform inspections under the supervision of a manager. He seems to believe that the potential lack of appropriate licensing in the case of the shuttle driver here, was an oversight.

Undoubtedly, if the passengers have sustained ongoing injuries, which often cannot be known for some period of time, the shuttle bus company and the trucking company and others might well end up in civil litigation for what appears to be negligence on their part.

Commercial transportation such as buses, cabs and shuttles have different levels of responsibility than do others on the roads. Applying for a commercial driver’s license in Georgia requires a written test and a driving test by appointment only. For information on how to get a commercial driver’s license, go to the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Commercial driver’s licenses are required under the following circumstances: if you will drive a combination of vehicles weighing 26, 001 pounds or more; if you will drive a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26, 001 pounds or more; if you are transporting 15 or more persons (including the driver) in a vehicle designed for carrying this number of passengers; or if you will drive a vehicle of any size that requires hazardous material placards.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bus on mountain road All across our country buses are being boarded this morning taking sports teams, senior citizens and tourists to their destinations. Last week in Texas, yet another major bus accident has left two dead and more than 40 injured. Thankfully, injuries appear to be moderate. As an Atlanta bus injury attorney, I know that age often makes recovery more difficult — these passengers were all over the age of 60.

This bus crash which carried senior citizens to a gambling outing, is currently under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities are now reviewing evidence and conducting interviews, but it will likely take months for the cause to be determined. At this point, the bus is known to have suddenly crashed and rolled over, trapping many of the passengers. Two of whom have lost their lives.

The bus company that owned the vehicle has a clean record, but does have some history of violations in the past. Violations such as a broken light and record keeping deficiencies are considered minor and are regulated under the Federal Motor Coach Safety Administration which is charged with ensuring bus safety.

After this accident, investigators are said to have spent time at the offices of the bus company and in conversation with its owners and their attorney. At one point, the company went bankrupt, but eventually went back into business. The driver of the bus involved in this crash had one fatal incident involving the death of a young man back in the late 1990’s. After a trial, the driver had been held partially responsible for the death of the young man.

Seatbelts are not required on charter buses. This is an issue that has been of concern to passengers and the federal government for many years. Although they are not currently required by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended them for years. Many wonder why these are not mandated by our government when accidents such as this one happen and injuries and deaths result that might have been avoided.

In another recent bus crash, older passengers were involved in an accident near Yosemite National Park when the bus lost control and careened down a slope, hitting a tree. Passengers suffered minor injuries in this crash.

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Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgA funeral mass will be held Sunday night at Seton Hill University after the school’s women’s lacrosse coach died over the weekend in a terrible bus crash on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Her unborn baby was also lost in this tragic crash. The driver of the bus was also killed.

There are many times in my practice as an Atlanta bus accident lawyer that I have counseled grieving families and friends. But it is so very difficult to imagine the sorrow of her family and friends, as she looked forward to the arrival of a child this summer.

Our hearts and our prayers go out to the coach’s surviving husband and child and the entire Seton Hill and surrounding community stunned by this event.

The bus that was transporting the women’s lacrosse team to an NCAA-II match at Millersville University in Pennsylvania was traveling on the Pennsylvania turnpike in the morning hours. The weather was a bit rainy and there might have been some light snow falling at that time. The coach and two other passengers were airlifted to a hospital nearby. But the coach passed away shortly after arriving at the facility and the driver passed away at the scene. Many other minor injuries were reported, but none appear to be life threatening.

The AP and USA Today report that this accident is one of three team crashes since the end of February alone. This bus careened off the turnpike and crashed into a tree. The crash is under investigation and is puzzling to authorities since it occurred on a flat stretch of the turnpike at a location which is not considered to be highly dangerous in any way. The front of the bus was severely damaged on impact.

One early theory is that the driver either fell asleep at the wheel or experienced a medical emergency while driving. The bus operator immediately sent a representative to the scene of the accident. The company has a good safety record.

Last week another bus that had a team on board in New York state, was hit by a car that had spun out of control on the road. One car passenger died and several players were injured. Recently, another bus that was transporting a University of Maine women’s basketball team left highway after the driver had a medical issue. The driver was hurt as were a player and coach.

The Center for Truck and Bus Safety has been working on various studies to determine what happens when drivers of large vehicles become impaired. In this case, we do not know whether the driver became ill and had a life-threatening medical event or became drowsy. There are systems being studied to waken drowsy drivers while they are on the road and eventually these systems might save lives.

There is no way to relieve the shock and grief that we all feel hearing about a crash such as this one. The only thing we can do is support the study of how these crashes might be avoided if humanly or scientifically possible.

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