Federal transportation authorities are now looking into ways to minimize injuries and deaths in bus accidents after the fiery truck versus bus collision in Northern California that killed 10 people. According to a news report in the Associated Press, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say that they have already issued recommendations, which if implemented, would have helped save lives in the most recent crash.
On April 10, a tour bus carrying 44 students from Southern California for a free tour of Humboldt State University burst into flames after colliding with a FedEx truck. The truck driver had veered across the Interstate 5 median, sideswiped a sedan and collided with the bus. NTSB officials said they have long advocated for seatbelts, emergency exits and fire safety rules to protect bus passengers.
Safety Standards Tough to Enforce
Under a new rule, all new motor coaches and large buses must include three-point lap-shoulder belts beginning November 2016 on all new buses. Although Silverado Stages, the company that operated the tour bus carrying the group, had seatbelts, passengers were found dead and ejected from the bus. Federal officials say it is difficult to issue guidelines to enforce seatbelt use when they are not actually mandated.
NTSB has also called for measures to detect and suppress fires and make buses less vulnerable to fires. Investigators say they will examine the bus’s materials and design and assess its ability to withstand fires. Safety standards to make large buses easier for passengers to escape after a crash have not been adopted 15 years after accident investigators called for new rules, officials say.
The NTSB is not expected to come out with its preliminary report for another month. The final report may not become available until after a year. CHP officials investigating the incident say they expect to identify the cause in three to six months. The FedEx truck’s black box has been recovered and accident reconstruction experts are working to determine the cause of the crash. The investigation will also review drivers’ blood tests, vehicle maintenance records and the drivers’ medical histories.
There is no question that the bus company and the trucking company have their attorneys and insurance representatives stay on top of the official investigations and look out for their best interests. The injured crash victims and families of deceased victims need a strong advocate and an experienced California bus accident lawyer on their side who will fight for their rights.