A new federal report reveals that the curbside bus industry experiences fatal accidents seven times more than other types of interstate bus operators. The define curbside buses, these are the buses that pick up passengers from street corners, parking lots and in front of retail stores than a bus stop or terminal.
The companies that offer these pick up locations, have been in business for 10 years or less and 44 percent have 10 or fewer buses. Companies that are new to the transportation industry were likely to have higher accident rates and roadside inspection violations.
The fatal accident rate was 1.4 per 100 curbside operators between 2005 and March 2011.
The report is astonishing as there are only 878 federal and state inspectors who oversee 765,000 bus companies, or an average of more than one inspector for 1,000 companies.
It can take an inspector two weeks or more to inspect just one bus company.
It is also difficult to evaluate the bus company’s safety record because the safety administration does not have the ability to regulate online ticket brokers who sell most of the tickets for curbside operators. Therefore, it is difficult for inspectors to evaluate the company’s safety record before the initial inspection.
"Business and safety practices within the growing curbside bus industry create challenges for enforcement authorities and consumers alike when it comes to separating the safe operators from the unsafe operators," NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement.
This report was requested after the fatal bus accident in New York killed 15 passengers and injured 18.
Another fatal accident involving Sky Express, was cite for 46 violations in just two years.
After the company was forced to close, they continued business under new names.
Fatal Bus Accident Statistics
In just 2011, there have already been 23 interstate bus accidents, killing 33 people and injuring 451. The shocking rate of accidents has Auto and Highway Safety advocating tougher bus safety regulations.
The curbside bus industry began in the 1990s as an expensive form of travel. The fares are generally around 30 dollars.
Inspectors also report that the drivers of the buses often cannot speak English even though a requirement for a commercial driver’s license is that drivers understand English. Many violations involved language deficiencies.
The biggest concern with the language barrier is that the drivers do not understand the safety regulations or are unaware of them.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, contact personal injury attorney Chris Davis at (206) 727-4000.