Given that bus accidents are rare, you may be wondering what causes them – and what factors make an accident more likely on a school bus, intercity bus, or municipal bus. Here are some of the most common contributing factors for bus accidents.
- Negligence by the bus company– This is the most common cause of accidents if the accident is due to a mechanical issue or another fault with the bus, such as a tire is exploding, or a severe brake issue. Many bus companies turn a blind eye to mechanical failures and federal regulations – and fail to keep their buses safe, adequately maintained, and adequate for passenger use.
This can result in serious incidents such as bus fires, or even accidents when major mechanical issues occur while the bus is in motion. If a company has caused an accident by failing to maintain a bus properly, this is a type of negligence.
- Negligent or reckless bus driver– Bus drivers are expected to perform their duties with the utmost care and attention for their passengers’ safety. Any action that they take that violates this duty – such as checking their cell phone or talking to someone on the phone, speeding, operating their vehicle recklessly, or otherwise endangering their passengers’ safety – is negligence on their part. Suppose this negligence causes a severe or even fatal accident. In that case, this can often be proven in a court of law by bus accident attorneys – resulting in a settlement for the affected parties.
- Fatigue or inattention– This can be considered a subset of driver negligence. Fatigue is a serious problem that can cause bus accidents – and it’s quite common among bus drivers.
Many people are not interested in becoming bus drivers, which can result in understaffing. This means a driver may have to work long hours and could be suffering from fatigue. Other factors, such as working split shifts or night shifts, can also contribute to the risk of bus driver fatigue. Fatigue increases the risk of a crash dramatically. 10-20% of crashes involving buses and trucks include fatigue.
- Negligence by another party– Negligence by another party may also be the cause of a bus crash. For example, if a driver turns in front of a bus, and the bus crashes into the rear of the car, or turns and hits a light pole or another stationary object because it cannot apply brakes in time, this is not negligence on the part of the bus driver – but the car operator.
Bus accidents often involve “shared fault,” which may make it more challenging to pursue a case in a court of law with a bus accident attorney. We’ll discuss shared fault in more detail below.
- Blind spots– Blind spots are a severe problem in buses, and bus drivers are expected to take the necessary precautions to avoid hitting pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers in their blind spots. However, this type of accident can also be the fault of the third party, if they do not take care to give the bus enough room, or otherwise drive recklessly.
In addition to these five, there are innumerable factors that can contribute to a bus accident – including inclement weather, poorly-trained or new bus drivers, and much more. Bus accidents are usually multi-faceted – and in most cases, there is more than one factor at play.
For example, a newer driver may fail to stop in time to avoid a crash, due to rainy weather and poorly-maintained brakes – and it takes an experienced team of investigators and bus accident lawyers to determine where the fault lies in these cases.