A new bus safety study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) finds that “curbside” buses are dangerous and need new regulations to keep them safe. The study states that the fatal accident rate for curbside carriers from January 2005 to March 2011 was seven times that of conventional bus operations. Instead of dropping riders off at bus terminals like conventional coaches, “curbside” buses drop passengers off at designated curb spots. According to the LA Times, this mode has become the fastest growing form of transportation since 2005, but the report clearly shows that inspections have not kept up with the growth.
The study found that curbside carriers with ten or fewer buses and carriers who have been in business for less than ten years have higher accident rates and higher roadside inspection violation rates. The study was requested by New York politicians Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Nydia Velázquez. This was prompted by a disastrous accident this spring, when a bus returning to New York City from a casino in Connecticut crashed in the Bronx, killing 15 people and injuring 17 more. Schumer reportedly commented, “The NTSB report is a wake-up call that we need a more rigorous regulatory regime and it provides a blueprint for how to fill the gaps.”
These curbside bus companies may have had other characteristics that have made them more susceptible to danger, including driver fatigue and the common practice of changing company names. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) earlier this year passed new regulations to fight previous problems, including: bus companies could simply become “reincarnated” under a different name after a major accident, drivers were sometimes still permitted to operate a bus despite violating drug or alcohol laws in a different automobile, and buses could operate for up to 18 months without a safety evaluation.
Buses are generally considered a safe form of transportation, but when inspections are few and regulations are loose, there is significant room for catastrophic accidents. In 2009 alone there were 254 fatalities and 15,399 injuries from bus crashes in the United States. Because of the size of buses, reckless driving, defective equipment and dangerous roadways could factor into extremely serious accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, contact a dedicated New York bus accident attorney to seek legal recourse and compensation for your injuries.