Bus-Truck Accident Lawyers in Georgia
At least seven people are dead, and 30 injured, after a tractor-trailer truck hit a Greyhound bus in New Mexico on Thursday, August 30. The second fatal crash involving a passenger bus and commercial truck in New Mexico this summer, this case brings up a few serious questions.
What Caused the Bus-Truck Accident?
It was shortly after 12:30 p.m., and the Greyhound bus carrying 49 passengers was traveling westbound on I-40 after making a stop in Albuquerque. The semi-truck had been traveling eastbound on I-40 just before the accident.
The driver of the truck reportedly told one witness that one of his front tires had blown out, causing the truck to careen out of control. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the cause of the accident.
What Happened Immediately After the Bus-Truck Accident?
“Survivors and bystanders turned into first responders,” according to a report from CBS News, “Climbing ladders with emergency crews to reach passengers still trapped inside.” 49 passengers were trapped inside, and several people were trying to climb out of the bus windows. With no time to spare, numerous people stopped to help. Survivors and witnesses, alike, assisted injured passengers out of the bus.
Shortly after the accident, hospital officials in Gallup, NM, reported that 37 passengers from the accident had been admitted, some of whom were families and children. Six more patients were expected soon, three in critical condition. The death count is currently at seven, but police expect that number to increase. Other injuries range from bruises to broken bones.
Truck Accident Lawyers Note: Not the First Bus-Truck Accident this Summer
This is the second accident of its type in New Mexico within the last two months. The first accident occurred on July 15 on I-25 near Bernalillo. Five vehicles were involved in that incident, including a commercial truck, a private charter bus, and three private vehicles.
In the investigation following the July accident, police found that the truck driver had a mobile phone mounted to a shelf next to the steering wheel. “The screen showed a YouTube video that was one hour and 30 minutes long and had played through half an hour when it was found,” KOAT 7 Action News reported. However, the police warrant stated that there was no evidence that the driver had been playing the video at the time of the accident.
With two horrifying accidents in under two months, we can’t help but think about the rules and regulations that help keep truck drivers, bus passengers, and everyone else on the road safe. While the NTSB continues its investigation into the cause of the accident on August 30, we wanted to explore a few potential causes of accidents like this and how to avoid them.
Truck Accident Information: Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all commercial truck drivers to complete driver vehicle inspection reports. Per the FMCSA, “Drivers are required to complete a daily written post-trip inspection report at the end of each driving day.”
In addition to identifying the vehicle, the report must include any deficiencies or defects that the driver finds, “which could affect the safety operation of the vehicle or result in a mechanical breakdown.”
Not all responsibility is on the driver, though. If the driver reports defects or deficiencies, the motor carrier company (or agent) is responsible for ensuring that the truck is repaired, inspected, and safe to operate. In the FMCSA’s words, “Prior to requiring or permitting a driver to operate a vehicle, every motor carrier or its agent shall repair any defect or deficiency listed on the driver vehicle inspection report which would be likely to affect the safe operation of the vehicle.”
Drivers are required to perform these inspections and record these reports after each driving day. Not only that, but motor carriers and agents must keep these records on file for a minimum of 30 days. And, if a report shows a defect or deficiency, the motor carrier or agent must keep the record for no less than three months.
In this case, if there was an existing, visible problem with the tire, the driver should have recorded it in his report. Furthermore, the tire should have been repaired or replaced before the truck was driven again. An absence of this record, or evidence that the deficiency was reported but not repaired, could indicate negligence on the part of the driver and/or the motor carrier.
Distracted Driving: Car and Truck Accident Lawyers Georgia
Police have not reported any evidence of distracted driving in the August 30 crash. However, when you look at the July 15 crash, evidence that the driver had potentially been watching a YouTube video while driving is alarming.
The NMCSA has implemented a nationwide ruling on all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to decrease distracted driving. “CMV drivers are prohibited from texting while driving,” says the NMCSA. This means that drivers are prohibited from “manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This includes, but is not limited to, short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a Web page, or pressing more than a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication using a mobile phone or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry, for present or future communication.”
That ruling covers texting, but what about watching a video? In the case of the July 15 accident, the phone was mounted on a shelf, and the driver was not holding it or texting. However, if the investigation proves that the driver was watching a video at the time of the accident, there could be a case for negligence.
Why is distracted driving such a major concern for trucking accident cases? The NMCSA cites recent research, stating that texting increases a CMV driver’s chances of being in a “safety-critical event” (such as an accident or unintentional lane deviation) by 232%. Furthermore, at 55 MPH, if a CMV driver’s eyes leave the road for just 4.6 seconds, they will have travelled about 100 yards. That means, if the driver in the July 15 accident had watched just five seconds of a video, he would have travelled the length of a football field without looking at the road.
You can see how distractions like a video or text could have catastrophic results in a trucking accident. Reports have said that the truck driver did not cause the July 15 accident. However, if he was distracted, he could have had slowed response times, resulting in a worse outcome.
After a Trucking Accident: Checking FMCSA Safety Records
At the time of this writing, the police have not released the name of the trucking company involved in the fatal accident on August 30. However, if you know the name of a truck driver’s motor carrier, you can look up the company’s records on FMCSA’s safety records website. If the company has a record of safety violations, there could be a case for negligence on the carrier’s part.
Commercial motor carriers, truck drivers, and bus drivers have a great responsibility to maintain the highest degree of safety possible on the road. Accidents do happen, but massive vehicles traveling at high speeds can pose a serious risk. Motor carriers and drivers must do everything in their power to keep everyone safe.
Contact The Champion Firm – Free Consultations
If you have questions about a bus accident, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at The Champion Firm today. Consultations are always free, and we will happily help you understand your case and what you need to do next to ensure the best outcome.