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| Shapiro, Appleton, Washburn & Sharp

The crashes of two charter buses within a week have put the spotlight on the safety record of buses for hire.

The most serious of the incidents was in Dinwiddie County, Virginia (VA). Three people in a pickup truck died when a charter bus carrying North Carolina A&T students struck it and drove the pickup into the rear of a logging truck. The 56-year-old bus driver from Greensboro, North Carolina (NC), has been charged with reckless driving, the Washington Post reported.

Then, on November 14, 2011, a charter bus hit a guardrail and crashed in Columbus, Ohio. There were no reports of injuries, reported.

The crashes come at the time of concerns over charter bus safety. An ABC investigation highlighted a range of problems on charter buses from faulty brakes to worn tires that were putting passengers and other road users at risk: “Nationwide, there were 29,771 inspections done on interstate buses in 1999. Of those, 3,259 buses — or 11 percent — were taken out of service, Department of Transportation records show.”

As experienced North Carolina and Virginia (VA) mass transit injury attorneys, my colleagues and I are concerned at the spate of crashes in 2011 both of charter and tour buses.

Earlier in November, for instance, I highlighted new findings from the National Transportation Safety Board that found low cost “curbside” bus services are seven times more likely to crash than regular interstate services. In May 2011 a tour bus crashed in Caroline County, VA, leaving four passengers dead and many others injured. Driver fatigue was highlighted as the cause of this crash.

Driver safety violations are rampant and, it seems, many companies change their names to avoid inspections and other regulations. Unless those realities change, the accidents will just keep coming.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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