Criminal prosecutors have filed charges against both a semi-truck driver and a commercial shuttle bus driver, for their roles in a crash last month that resulted in 17 injuries.
Our injury attorneys understand there were multiple factors to blame in this situation, a fact that highlights widespread problems within the entire shuttle bus industry – from the design of the vehicles to the fact that they are often poorly maintained to the fact that drivers often aren’t certified to operate them.
Any one of these factors has the potential for fatal consequences. This case had all of them, plus the involvement of a semi-truck performing an illegal u-turn. Miraculously, no one was killed.
According to authorities, here’s what happened:
A shuttle bus driver was transporting 16 passengers, including at least two children. Meanwhile, the driver of a tractor-trailer was making an illegal u-turn. The shuttle bus slammed into the tractor-trailer, and everyone aboard the bus – including the driver – had to be transported to a nearby hospital, some with serious injuries.
Although the tractor-trailer driver was acting illegally, police investigators say that it was, in fact, the poor condition of the tires that were to blame. One even had the steel belts poking through the rubber.
But the shuttle bus problems didn’t stop there. The rear brakes of the bus were not functional. That meant when the bus driver attempted to make an abrupt stop, it had only the front brakes upon which to rely.
On top of all that, the driver of the bus did not have a proper commercial license for the type of vehicle she was driving or the number of passengers it carried.
The owner of the shuttle bus company admits mistakes were made but said that the driver of each vehicle is supposed to conduct safety checks on a vehicle before transporting passengers. The firm is investigating whether that was done, as well as why the driver was operating a vehicle for which she had no proper authorization.
Meanwhile, the trucking company, while in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, has been involved in at least 200 crashes in the last two years alone. Of those, six resulted in fatalities.
Many times, we find in these cases that shuttle buses failed to even meet the basic requirements as laid forth by the FMCSA. However, we would argue that those standards should be even stricter. For example, as it stands now, there is no requirement for the vehicles to be equipped with seat belts. Plus, particularly with airport transport vehicles, luggage is often not properly secured and there is a tendency to overload those vehicles in an effort to make fewer trips.
The sad reality is that too often, these firms do not have the safety of their customers or others on the road at the top of their priority list. We hope that if there is any good to come from situations like this, it is that this kind of thinking will change.