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Should There Be Uniform Safety Standards for Buses Here in the U.S.?

Even though several months have passed, it seems like only a few days ago that the state of Tennessee was rocked by a truly horrific bus accident that left eight people dead and 14 others seriously injured. Here, a church bus carrying senior citizens home to North Carolina blew a tire on Interstate 40 outside of Newport and careened across the median into oncoming traffic.

While we want to believe that bus crashes like these are an anomaly, this is actually far from the case. Statistics show that roughly 20 people are killed in bus accidents here in the U.S. every year.

However, experts point out that this number could soon start to climb higher considering that bus lines are now running over 700 million passenger trips every year, second only to the 720 million passenger trips run by the airlines.

What then is behind this increasing issue with bus safety?

Interestingly, many safety experts believe that one of the major problems concerning bus safety is the lack of uniform laws/rules among the 50 states.

To illustrate, enforcement of federal safety laws covering those buses that cross state lines is left entirely up to the individual states. This is problematic, of course, because it has resulted in a veritable patchwork of safety standards. For instance, only half the states currently mandate annual inspections of buses, while others choose to devote the majority of their allotted federal inspection funds to the inspection of trucks, not buses.

Compounding the problem further is the fact that the states all have different safety laws/rules governing those buses that only operate within their own boundaries, meaning they aren’t subject to federal jurisdiction.

In light of this reality, industry groups and vehicle safety advocates are now calling on the federal government to introduce more consistent bus safety enforcement/laws both among and within the 50 states. This move, they argue, wouldn’t allow otherwise unscrupulous bus operators to register and run in those states with otherwise low safety standards.

“We want to make sure everybody who is in the business is performing at the same level,” said the president and CEO of the American Bus Association.

For their part, Congress has responded to this demand by ordering the U.S. Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of implementing uniform bus inspection laws.

It should be very interesting to see what the DOT’s report, which isn’t due until next year, has to conclude concerning uniform bus inspection laws both in garages and on the roads.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash or bus accident, remember to consider speaking with a dedicated legal professional to learn more about how you can pursue justice.

Source: The Valley News, “More buses bring more scrutiny from state regulators,” Daniel Vock, Feb. 18, 2014