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Charter Bus Accident Safety Called Into Question

Less than a week after a charter bus crash in Texas killed nine people and injured 44, another charter bus crash in Florida killed two people and injured several more.

Officials reported the driver of a Dodge Challenger collided with the bus as it was moving north on Northwest 27th Avenue near 11th Court. The driver of that car was pronounced dead at the scene while the passenger, the father of a 6-year-old daughter, died after he was transported to Broward Health Medical Center. At the time of the crash, there were 38 people aboard the charter bus, including 34 students, three chaperones and a driver. The students, from three area high schools, were returning from a field trip event in Tallahassee when the crash occurred.

Although details of who may have been at fault in the bus crash are still under investigation, the fact is that a growing number of people will be utilizing charter buses to get around this summer. Gov. Rick Scott’s office reported in February that Florida tourism numbers spiked to a record 105 million last year. A substantial portion of those travel either from other parts of the state or other parts of the country to Florida destinations, and many utilize charter bus services.

Recently, CNN launched an investigation into the practices of one of the most popular charter bus companies, Greyhound. They found some troubling trends.

Reporters began looking into the scourge of charter bus accidents following the October 2013 crash of a Greyhound bus headed from New York to Cleveland. While on I-80 in Pennsylvania, the bus driver crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer. One of the passengers was thrown from the bus and killed. Many others were injured, including an aspiring opera singer whose voice box was crushed.

One of those passengers sued the company and its driver for negligence, asserting the driver was too fatigued, was not following the company’s own internal safety rules to combat fatigue and fell asleep at the wheel. What’s more, the company president testified there is no internal enforcement of the safety rules, and the organization does not punish drivers who don’t abide it.

Specifically at issue was the so-called “150 Rule,” also referred to by Greyhound as “G-40.” It requires drivers to stop every 150 miles to get out, walk around the bus, check the systems and the tires, stretch, get some fresh air and do some exercises. However, as it would later be revealed, this “rule” is more like a guideline. It’s suggested, but not often implemented.

When CNN checked the routes on dozens of scheduled trips, there was no indication of any scheduled stops every 150 miles. That means drivers have to initiate these stops themselves. And on longer trips, the president testified it’s not uncommon for drivers to travel more than 300 miles without stopping – and not be penalized for it.

Government research has shown that nearly 40 percent of all passenger bus crashes can be attributed to driver fatigue.

The passenger who sued after the 2013 crash in Pennsylvania was recently awarded $27 million, including $4 million in punitive damages for reckless indifference to the safety of passengers. Jurors also tacked on an extra $150, to drive home the point that the 150 Rule should be enforced.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

2 killed in crash involving charter bus outside Dillard High School, May 27, 2016, By Alexandra Fruin, Local 10

More Blog Entries:

GEICO v. Macedo – Attorney Fees in Florida Injury Lawsuits, May 17, 2016, Broward Bus Accident Lawyer Blog

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