Riding the bus to work or another destination allows you to relax and take your mind off the road. Unfortunately, though, you are not in a protective bubble. Buses often get into traffic accidents. Across the country dozens of people are seriously injured or even killed. As a passenger, you need to be vigilant in case a collision occurs.
All traffic accidents have causes, which can range from human error to natural conditions. Sometimes, multiple factors contribute to a crash. These are among the most common causes of bus accidents:
- Bus driver error — The vast majority of bus drivers are trained, skilled and observant of safety rules. Drivers must have commercial licenses and they are subject to stringent medical and competency requirements. However, even good drivers can make mistakes. Drivers can be distracted by their own activity, by passengers or by external events. In addition, drivers can become fatigued, which makes them less alert.
- Automobile driver error — Many bus accidents are the result of another driver’s negligence. The average driver is not nearly as skilled or attentive as a commercial operator. Some automobile drivers are careless when sharing the road with buses. They are often unmindful that large, heavy vehicles are not nearly as maneuverable as passenger cars and have longer stopping distances. Some drivers cause accidents with buses by cutting them off or abruptly stopping in front of them.
- Mechanical problems —Buses are complex and maintenance must be attended to rigorously. Some bus companies do not adequately maintain their fleet. They may skip scheduled maintenance or ignore known mechanical issues. More than a few accidents are the result of worn brakes or tires or broken steering gear. In still other cases, a bus has a design or manufacturing defect that leads to an accident.
- Road and weather conditions — Bad weather conditions such as snow, rain or fog can impair visibility. Ice, snow and rain can affect maneuverability and require increased stopping distances, especially for large, heavy vehicles. Potholes, cracks and other conditions resulting from inadequately maintained roads can cause or contribute to a serious accident.
If you are aboard a bus that has been in an accident, there are steps you should take immediately to help yourself and others. First, get out of harm’s way, disembarking if possible. Next, make sure that emergency services have been contacted. Assist others who appear to need help, but don’t risk making someone’s injury worse by moving them. If you are physically able, take pictures of the accident scene and get contact information for others who were involved in or who witnessed the accident. If you feel you are hurt to any degree, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Lastly, contact a qualified bus accident attorney as soon as you can.
Seigel Law in Ridgewood represents people hurt in bus accidents in the North Jersey/ Metropolitan New York City area. Please call 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.