On Sunday evening, a tour bus hit a car, flipped on its side and ran into a pickup truck approximately 80 miles East of Los Angeles. Seven people were killed and dozens more were injured.
According to one witness, the bus appeared to be careening out of control. The driver, who survived the crash, said that he was having trouble with his brakes. While most bus accidents result from driver error, auto defects can also play a role. If mechanical failure is the cause of this accident, the tour bus company and manufacturer of the bus will have many questions to answer. Were the brakes properly inspected? Were they defective?
Unless the National Transportation Safety Board's inspection discovers that the driver was at fault in the accident, these questions will be at the center of personal injury lawsuits against the responsible parties.
The bus company, Scapadas Magicas, operates in Tijuana, Mexico and National City, California. It has been cited 59 times, including citations involving the brakes on the bus. In fact, the company has a worse maintenance record than 75 percent of all tour bus companies. It is on a federal watch list.
If this sounds familiar, it is because the story is similar to the 2011 New York tour bus accident that killed 15 people. Since that accident, regulators have focused on bus safety and there have been regulations proposed that would prevent companies with multiple violations from continuing operations. Yet, this California accident shows that more must be done to inspect buses and busing companies and shut down those companies that fail to put safety above their bottom lines.
Source: USA Today, "Investigators Look for Answers After Fatal Calif. Crash," Feb. 4, 2013