This last Saturday, a charter bus crashed into a highway barrier on the North Loop of I-45, injuring all 11 bus passengers and sending 5 to the hospital with serious injuries. According to reports, the bus veered off course and hit the plastic barricades that currently line the North Loop, causing it to rollover.
As a result of the crash, multiple lanes on I-45 were blocked through Saturday morning. While it’s still unclear exactly what caused the crash at this time, one official from the Houston Fire Department noted that the plastic highway barricades “…collapsed and gave way to a ramp effect.” The charter bus eventually had to be lowered down from the plastic barrels by back-up crews.
What Causes Injuries in Charter Bus Accidents?
In 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimated that people took over 241 million trips on charter buses, tour buses, and other curbside bus services. While these vehicles still tend to be much safer than cars, the NTSB study also found that curbside carriers have a fatality rate that is seven times higher than conventional bus and carrier services, although most of these fatalities happen to other drivers on the road.
In most cases, charter and tour bus passengers sustain accident injuries because of the following issues:
- Lack of seat belts and restraints: Unlike commercial planes, cars, and other vehicles, buses are not required to offer appropriate seat belts and restraints for their passengers. Because large buses have a tendency to roll over, passengers are often thrown against the walls of the bus and other objects during a crash, resulting in more serious injuries.
- Minimal oversight: Commercial tour bus and charter bus drivers can often avoid scrutiny from federal regulators, in stark contrast with airline pilots and other commercial drivers. Bus companies also do not always check that their drivers meet the required qualifications to operate a commercial vehicle within their state.
- Bus design defects: Over the years, bus manufacturers have been cutting corners when it comes to roof support – and during a rollover crash, a weak roof can easily give way and cause greater injuries. Additionally, although there exists technology to strengthen bus windows and prevent passenger ejection, manufacturers rarely opt to use it on their vehicles.
At The Ammons Law Firm, we hope that all the passengers injured in the recent crash have a speedy recovery and the chance to heal from this traumatic experience. As nationally-recognized personal injury lawyers, we regularly represent victims of serious bus crashes throughout Houston and have experience holding bus companies, manufacturers, and operators liable for causing injury. By helping injury victims understand the root cause of their accidents and seek compensation, we hope to be able to push the commercial bus industry towards greater accountability in the long term.
Call (281) 801-5617 today to speak with an attorney.