By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
The importance of bus safety and proper driver training is once again illuminated after 55 people were injured Thursday in a charter bus accident outside of Irwindale. According to authorities, it’s too early to tell how the accident occurred, but witnesses of the crash say driver error is to blame.
The bus accident occurred at 10:00 a.m. on the 605 Freeway interchange after reports indicate the bus overturned after possible overcorrection and hard braking, injuring 52 out of 55 passengers.
As officials continue to make sense of the accident, reports say witnesses of the crash saw the driver attempt a lane change. After allegedly hitting another vehicle, the bus was said to have veered off the road, running through a chainlink fence where it finally toppled over to its side.
The California Highway Patrol, however, has not released a cause for the accident nor does the CHP officially blame the driver for having caused the accident.
“It's a little early to determine whether it was driver error,” said Saul Gomez, a CHP spokesman told NBC 4. “We are worried more about the injured people than the actual investigation itself.”
Although the driver was properly licensed, the tour bus company, Da Zhen, has been cited for safety violations since February according to reports.
DRIVER FATIGUE TO BLAME?
In a separate article at the Washington Post titled, “How to prevent fatal bus crashes,” we learn that most bus injuries occur due to a combination of factors including “[a] fatigued driver, poor occupant protection in a crash and marginal operators that are put out of service only after a fatal accident.”
The National Traffic Safety Board has investigated cases like these in the past, with the following recommendations to help prevent future bus accidents.
BUSES SHOULD BE REGULATED. Federal oversight over buses could ensure that poor vehicles stay off our roadways, protecting potential passengers in the process.
IMPROVED OCCUPANT PROTECTION. It goes without saying that without the proper safety measures, buses cannot be entirely safe in the event of an accident. The NTSB has recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve regulations on window glazing, roof strength, seating compartments and emergency exits in all buses but little or very few of these improvement recommendations have actually been implemented.
BETTER ON-BOARD TECHNOLOGY. In today’s high-tech world, there’s no reason buses should not have some of the same advances in technology equipped within passenger vehicles. Lane departure warnings, stability control and collision warning systems are just some of the ways buses can use technology to prevent accidents.
RALLY TO PREVENT FUTURE BUS ACCIDENTS
If you’d like to take a stand against future bus accidents, you can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to let them know you support laws for improved bus safety.
Let’s do what we can to prevent the next bus accident.