841,993 buses were registered in the U.S. in 2009.
A total of 56,000 bus crashes were reported nationwide that year.
That figure translates to more than 153 bus accidents daily.
About 16% of those crashes cause injuries.
Government estimates place the cost of injury crashes involving commercial vehicles, including buses, at $20 billion per year.
Commercial vehicles are estimated to cause $5 billion in property damage yearly due to crashes.
Between 1996 and 2009, Florida averaged about 2 fatal motorcoach crashes per year.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Bus transportation has long been a cost-effective, timely means of transportation for students, urban populations, tourists, church groups, airport travelers and sports teams. Ridership has been steadily expanding, with the National Transportation Safety Board reporting some 700 million passengers annually are transported by buses. In context, that’s the entire population of Europe.
The vast majority of people travel to and from their destinations without issue. Indeed, the total number of bus accidents comprised a relatively small share of total traffic accidents in the U.S. – about 0.6 percent.
However, at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, we know buses are not necessarily safer than cars. Consider a 2012 study by the Journal of Safety Research. In “Risk Factors Associated With Bus Accident Severity in the United States,” the number of bus accidents per million miles traveled is actually comparable to the number of car crashes – 3.04 versus 3.21.
In fact, the NTSB notes approximately 250 people are killed and 20,000 injured each year in bush-related crashes. In one recent seven-year stretch, there were nearly 1,100 fatal crashes involving large buses resulting in 1,315 deaths and 3,500 injuries. These figures include pedestrians and people in other motor vehicles, but those individuals simply cannot be discounted when talking about the risk these large vehicles pose.
Types of bus accidents may include:
- Passenger Vans
- Private buses/Airport Shuttles/Motor coaches
- Public Transportation Accidents
- School Bus Accidents
Risk factors identified by the Journal of Safety Research were mostly driver-related. Factors involved in increasing severity of crashes included:
- Drivers under the age of 25
- Drivers over the age of 55 (most prominently for drivers over 65)
- Drivers traveling at high speeds (over 65 mph)
- Drivers traveling at very low speeds (under 20 mph)
- Drivers traversing intersections
- Driver inattention
- Driver risk-taking
- Driver fatigue
Researchers from the University of Michigan in “Type of Motor Carrier and Driver History in Fatal Bus Crashes” examined a recent six-year snapshot of data. What they discovered was on average, 50 passengers are killed annually and inter-city buses are nearly twice as likely to be involved in an accident.
However, charter bus operations have significantly higher odds of driver error behind the wheel.
These crashes, when they happen can be devastating. Common injuries suffered by those involved in Florida bus accidents:
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Deep tissue and internal injuries
That’s why the NTSB lobbied hard for years for the federal government to enact a number of specific safety improvements. Those included:
- Better federal oversight of motor coach operations to ensure the safety of both the vehicles and drivers.
- Improved occupant protection. A big part of the reason bus accidents are so severe is because many of the vehicles lack crashworthiness. The NTSB urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enact improved standards for window glazing, seating compartments, window emergency exist and roof strength.
- Advance vehicle technologies, including forward-collision warning systems, electronic stability control and in-lane departure warnings.
These measures were finally enacted with The Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2012. In addition to guidelines for improved motor coach safety, the law mandates a study to analyze the feasibility and costs of retrofitting other kinds of buses with improved safety features.
But our efforts should not stop there. The number of buses operating in Lee and Collier Counties is on the rise.
In terms of public transit in Lee County, LeeTran, a department of the county, operates 18 bus routes for the public, a paratransit service for the disabled called Passport and an employer vanpool program. The fleet includes 50 full-size buses, 11 trolleys and 47 paratransit vans. It’s the seventh-largest transportation system in Florida. In addition, the Lee County School District bus system, with over 700 school buses, transports nearly 60 percent of the district’s students on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the Collier Area Transit system operates 11 bus routes for the public. The Collier County Public Schools Transportation Department operates some 300 buses and transports approximately 20,000 students every day.
Beyond these services, there are countless private services, ranging from Greyhound operations to smaller motor coach companies serving tourists and shorter-term “party-buses” that cater to spring-breakers, wedding parties, conferences and other groups.
Bus accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, and determinations of which entities may be held responsible can be complex. Often, litigation stemming from bus accidents involves multiple defendants, ranging from individual drivers to large corporations to government entities and employees. Our valued clients trust us to conduct a thorough investigation, secure top-tier expert witnesses, formulate an effective legal strategy and help them secure the compensation they deserve.
Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.
Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation