Investigations into the New York bus accident last month that killed 14 people indicate that the bus driver was speeding at the time of the accident and that some of his initial accounts of the accident were not entirely accurate. Meanwhile, even as the investigations into the accident continue, the National Transportation Safety Board has intensified pressure on the motor carrier industry to increase safety aids on buses.
Initial investigations have shown that the driver was driving at a speed of 70 mph in a 50 mph speed zone. His initial accounts of the bus having been flicked by a tractor-trailer also don’t seem to be true.
The motor carrier industry, not just in New York but around the country, has been forced to reflect on the sorry state of its fleets. According to National Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Deborah Hersman, a bus has fewer protections than your average minivan. To New York personal injury lawyers, there can be no denying the fact that the bus industry has simply failed to keep pace with increasing traffic, dangerous highway conditions, and faster automobiles. Most buses still continue to ply our roads without the most basic of safety features, like seat belts. In spite of the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations over the years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has failed to mandate seat belts for buses.
This week, the National Transportation Safety Board came close to recommending that the motor carrier industry begin equipping its vehicles with enhanced technologies to prevent accidents and reduce fatalities. The board is specifically advising the use of forwarding collision warning systems that can alert the driver when an object is in the path of his car, thereby preventing an accident. Other systems like electronic stability control help reduce the risk of dangerous bus rollovers.
The bus that crashed in New York last month skidded at high speeds and flipped over, effectively slicing the bus in two. At this point in time, it’s hard to tell whether any of these technological aids would have helped reduce the impact of this accident. However, there’s no denying the fact that the motor carrier industry in the United States needs to step into the 21st century.