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Distracted Bus Drivers Are Risking Public Safety

Written by Ankin Law Office

Bus drivers may be distracted about 39% of the time a bus is in operation, which puts the public in danger. Bus drivers have more crashes and near crashes compared to other drivers of vehicles with three or more axles.

Accidents resulting from distracted bus drivers can cause major injuries or death to bus riders, people in passenger cars, and cyclists or pedestrians. Legal counsel may be needed to ensure a fair settlement from insurance companies after a bus accident.

Bus Driver Caught Watching A Video While Driving

Driver distraction is an important component of research related to motor vehicle collisions. Cell phones contribute to driver distraction in passenger cars and buses. A bus driver was recently filmed while driving and watching a video on his cell phone.

The driver looked away from the road and at his smartphone nearly a dozen times in under two minutes. A nervous rider filmed the episode during a trip along a crowded interstate from Washington D.C. to New York City.

An Alarming Number Of Similar Incidences

A school bus driver in Florida was also caught on tape watching videos while driving. The bus was loaded with children at the time of the incident. A parent of one of the children complained when his daughter said that the driver was watching TV while driving.

Cell phones are not the only culprit. Eating while driving can also be a huge distraction. A bus driver in New Mexico was caught on tape eating a burrito with two hands moments before he caused a multi-car crash.

A truck accident attorney Chicago can provide legal guidance after a bus accident. Bus drivers are responsible for their passengers, and distracted driving is proven to be dangerous.

Risky Driving Factors That Cause Accidents

Distracted driving causes accidents due to factors such as:

  • Fluctuations of vehicle speed
  • Slower brake response
  • Increased reaction time

Researchers did not find a large increase in accidents or near accidents regarding simply talking or listening to a cell phone. The risk of a crash did increase if the driver was texting, sending email, or watching a video.

Using technology such as cell phones is not entirely to blame. Bus drivers may also be distracted by passengers and by looking for personal items while driving. A recent study found that bus drivers were found to be distracted about 39% of the time.

Every moment that a driver is distracted increases the potential for a crash or near-crash. A truck accident attorney Chicago can help determine who is responsible for an accident and seek damages if appropriate.

Passengers Make A Difference

One key difference between bus drivers and other truck drivers is the presence of passengers. Passengers pose a unique problem for bus drivers. The crash rate for buses and other large trucks is very similar if distraction from passengers is not factored in.

Bus drivers must maintain order on the bus. Unruly passengers should be removed. The driver must ensure that everyone is safe on board. If the driver does not remove an unruly passenger, the distraction may cause an accident.

Other risk factors include driver fatigue, aggressive driving and road rage, speeding, and violations of hours of service. A truck accident attorney Chicago can cross-check drivers’ logs to determine if a violation has occurred.

The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act

Changes to how buses operate were put into effect with the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. Buses must comply by having:

  • Seat belts at every seating position
  • Improved fire extinguishers
  • Advanced glazing over windows to prevent passengers from being ejected
  • Stability enhancing technology to reduce roll-over accidents
  • Tire pressure monitoring systems

Electronic or wireless devices, including cell phones, are not to be used by motorcoach operators if they interfere with safe operation of the vehicle. The driver may use a cell phone if needed in emergency situations.

Buses Are Not Safer Than Passenger Cars

While buses only make up 0.6% of all motor vehicle accidents, the number of accidents per mile is comparable. In 2012 researchers found there were 3.04 bus accidents per million miles compared to 3.21 passenger vehicle accidents per million miles.

Researchers found that the age of the driver was a key factor in how likely a crash would be. Young, new drivers had the highest risk of an accident. Drivers over 65 increased the risk of severe injuries by over 50% and the risk of death over 18%.

Bus drivers are responsible for the safe operation of the motorcoach. Bus drivers must be aware of the conditions on and around the bus. People injured in a bus crash should consider a truck accident attorney Chicago to determine if a bus driver was negligent.

Categories: Personal Injury