The federal agency, which investigates fatal highway crashes, has criticized the U.S. Department of Transportation for failing to keep unsafe tour buses off highways. According to an NBC Los Angeles news report, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made his criticism after investigators determined that a fatal February tour bus crash near Big Bear that left eight people dead was due to faulty brakes. Investigators said regular inspections of tour buses would have caught such an egregious safety violation and taken that bus off the road.
Lack of Enforcement
Reports say the bus was operated by Scapadas Magicas, a company with a history of serious violations. However, even with such a poor safety record, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees commercial vehicles, did not shut them down until after the tragic crash. NTSB’s Chairman Deborah Hersman said the department should put bad carriers out of business not after they have crashes, but before.
She also said that the FMCSA failed to stop unsafe buses and drivers such as those exposed in a recent NBC investigation, which found numerous intercity bus drivers texting and talking for hours on their phones while driving on Southern California freeways. In its three-month investigation, the NBC investigation revealed how the FMCSA has cited bus companies for ongoing safety violations, but has allowed them to continue operating, putting everyone on the road at great risk.
Protecting Accident Victims’ Rights
If you have been injured in a bus accident, there are several steps you can take to make sure that your rights are protected. If you are able, immediately after the crash, it is important to gather as many details as possible from the scene. Some of the important information to gather includes:
• The bus’s license plate number, registration and insurance information.
• The driver’s license information.
• Photographs of the scene.
• Photos of your injuries.
• Your bus ticket, which will show that you traveled on that bus.
• Contact information for fellow passengers and anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
If you have been injured in a bus accident, it is also crucial that you get prompt medical attention. In addition to creating a record and documenting your injuries and expenses, seeing a doctor will also help ensure that your recovery is on track. Please refrain from talking to insurance companies or defense attorneys. Do not sign any agreements before you have talked to an experienced Los Angeles bus accident lawyer who will ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected.