Beebe and O'Neil

Federal inspectors called to account for bus and truck accidents

Four major accidents involving buses and trucks have caught the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board, which recently called for a probe of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The job of the administration is to conduct safety inspections of buses and trucks, and to monitor and regulate trucking and busing companies and their drivers.

None of the specific accidents in question happened in Connecticut, but our state is far from immune to devastating truck and bus crashes.

In particular, the motor carrier administration is accused of failing to notice safety violations that led to four accidents that took 25 people's lives and injured 85.

One crash involved a truck driver who actually kept two sets of driving logs, one that was inaccurate and one that showed that he had been on the road for 10 days in a row at the time of a rear-end collision that killed six people. Truck drivers are required by federal law to take rest breaks to avoid fatigue, and in this case, the trucker had violated a federal regulation.

In another accident, a bus driver in Oregon had been on the road for 92 hours over an eight-day span, despite the fact that federal law limits driving time for commercial bus drivers to 70 hours. The driver in that case lost control of the bus and crashed it down a slope. Thirty-eight people, including the driver, were injured, and nine people lost their lives.

The NTSB found that in another instance, a bus in California had faulty brakes that should have been noticed in an inspection. The brakes failed, and eight people were killed in the resulting crash. Eleven other people suffered serious injuries.

A fourth fatal accident in Tennessee also involved a truck driver who drove too many hours. That driver's employer was also found to have other employees who had committed such violations.

Connecticut residents who have been injured in truck accidents need to know that commercial trucking and busing companies will try to limit their liability and shirk responsibility for a crash. Those companies' insurers will also try to avoid paying out to injured victims. In these instances, to receive the compensation they deserve, injured parties may want to speak with a personal injury attorney to explore the full range of legal options.

Source: myfoxphilly.com, "Gov't oversight of bus, truck industries faulted," Joan Lowy, Nov. 7, 2013

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