The National Transportation Safety Board is looking for answers as to why four major bus and truck accidents were allowed to happen. In particular, the NTSB has faulted inspectors with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for allowing bussing and trucking companies to continue operating despite safety violations.
Pennsylvania sees its fair share of commercial vehicle accidents, and drivers in our state should know that operators of large commercial trucks and buses are subject to federal rules and regulations. Violating those rules often leads to serious personal injuries.
Documents from the NTSB said that federal inspectors will have to answer for four accidents that happened in four separate states over the last two years.
One tour bus accident in California seriously injured 11 people and killed eight others. In that case, catastrophic brake failure led to the vehicle overturning. The bussing company had even been cited for previous mechanical defects, but the company was still given safety clearance by federal inspectors one month before the fatal accident.
Driver fatigue is an extremely dangerous hazard in the bussing and trucking industries, and in two fatal crashes -- one in Oregon and one in Kentucky -- the drivers had broken regulatory limits for consecutive hours behind the wheel.
In fact, the truck driver in the Kentucky accident, which killed six people, had falsified his driving log. Truck drivers are supposed to record their travel hours, and the driver in this crash kept a fake log and a real one. The real one showed that he had been driving for 10 consecutive days when the crash happened.
The bus driver in the Oregon accident had been working for 92 hours in eight days when the accident occurred, killing nine and injuring 37. The federal hours-of-driving limit in that case was 70 hours.
The fourth accident happened in Tennessee, where a tractor-trailer hit eight vehicles. That truck driver had also violated federal hours-of-service rules.
In each of these instances, federal inspectors should have noticed prior warning signs that the trucking and bussing companies were in violation of federal regulations, according to the NTSB.
Auto accidents involving large commercial vehicles often involve complex investigations to determine liability, even when it seems clear that a bus or truck driver was at fault. After such a harrowing collision, injured victims or their families will likely need a legal advocate to achieve the best possible outcome.
Source: myfoxphilly.com, "Gov't oversight of bus, truck industries faulted," Joan Lowy, Nov. 7, 2013