Fatal Tour Bus Accident Reveals Inadequate Safeguards


April 14, 2011

People visit Atlanta from all over the U.S. and routinely take tour buses to get around and see the city. Unfortunately, these tour bus companies are sometimes run by marginal companies that may disappear after a serious auto accident, only to re-emerge the next day as a new company.

These bus companies often operate without regulation or standard safety practices, which can mean devastating accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death.

A tragic tour bus accident in N.Y. last month that killed 15 passengers reveals the extent of the problem. The accident has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate the accident to determine if additional safety measures might have prevented the tragedy. The recent rash of such crashes in the national news reflects the scope of the problem. A tour bus crash involving a tour bus traveling from New York’s Chinatown to Philadelphia crashed on the New Jersey turnpike killing two and injuring forty occurred just three days after the NYC crash. A fatal tour bus crash also occurred in Wisconsin within hours of the NYC tour bus accident.

Federal regulators have acknowledged for many years the dangers associated with fly-by-night tour bus companies that are not closely regulated and that operate with inadequate safety precautions or supervision. Ray LaHood, the Obama administration’s transportation secretary, has launched a campaign to crackdown on “chameleon” tour bus companies that close down to avoid regulation or consequences from accidents only to re-open under another name.

The tour bus driver in the NYC incident had a lengthy criminal record including a June 2003 arrest for driving with a suspended license. He was also charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and possession of police scanners. Police records show the driver was also charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors, including pleading guilty to one charge of manslaughter. Given the driver’s criminal history, one is left to wonder what type of background check was conducted when he was hired. Witness reports indicate that the driver seemed to be swerving in and out of the lane and may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Although he was required to keep a log monitoring rest breaks, it does not appear that his log was current.

The NHTSA is currently looking at ways to prevent serious tour bus accidents in the wake of this sudden wave of fatal bus accidents. Some of the safety measures being considered include the following:

  • Installation of collision warning systems
  • Improved standards for bus roof strength
  • Use of anti-ejection glazing windows (to keep passenger inside the vehicle in a collision)
  • Closer scrutiny and regulation of busing companies

A bus company is a common carrier, which means they owe a high level of care to patrons. If a person is injured in a busing accident caused by driver fatigue, improper training or poor bus maintenance, an injured patron or those in other vehicles or pedestrians may have a right to compensation for their injuries. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a tour bus accident, the experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, will work diligently to obtain the best possible outcome in your Georgia bus accident case. We will carefully investigate the background of the driver as well as the bus company’s safety and maintenance records. We are committed to building a reputation throughout Georgia as the best Atlanta personal injury lawyers.

Our experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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