On Sunday, February 3, 2013, a bus crashed on a California mountain highway, killing seven and leaving over three dozen more injured. Many are still in critical condition. The bus was 17 years old and had a slew of maintenance and safety issues over the years, including the following:
- Eight violations by safety inspectors in October of 2012, for problems such as fluid leads and an improperly installed battery
- Three other brake violations since October 2011
- Seven citations for maintenance problems in July of 2012, including problems with windshields, tires and brakes
It was ultimately the brakes that seem to have caused the accident, as passengers reported hearing the driver say that he couldn’t get the brakes to work. The bus driver lost control of the bus on a winding, two-lane road, causing it to hit a sedan, flip over, and plow into a pickup truck. Passengers were thrown from the bus through shattered windows.
Why was a bus that was old, to begin with, and that had such a history of maintenance and safety problems, still on the road? Why was there no follow-up to make sure that the problems with the vehicle were either addressed and fixed, or that the vehicle was taken out of service?
Despite the history of this particular vehicle, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) gave the company that operated the bus a satisfactory rating. When one of the buses still in operation is riddled with this many problems, how can the FMCSA find this satisfactory? Because it did, and because the vehicle remained in operation, seven people are dead.
Bus drivers are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers on the road, and for good reason. Passengers on buses are entrusting their lives to bus companies and their drivers, who they pay to transport them safely. But what good is a heightened standard of care if the vehicles that bus drivers operate are not properly maintained? And if the government agencies that are assigned the duty of making sure these buses are in good operating condition fail to do so, who is to be held responsible?
Every so often we are reminded through accidents like these how far we have to go before we can rest assured that travel by bus is safe. If you have been injured in a bus accident, you need compassionate, comprehensive legal care. Call an attorney at Kirkendall Dwyer today to get a free consultation.