How Safe Is Your Family On The Road?
You likely have heard of the horrific schoolbus/dump truck crash which occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark last week. What you may not know is the extensive history of dangerous safety violations of the companies and driver involved. Please think of your family and loved ones as you read this.
As a personal injury attorney, I routinely see automobile drivers doing everything right, yet they and their passengers, usually family, get serious injury or killed, due to the recklessness, or disregard of safety laws by others. After 35 years of practice it is still disturbing.
In New Jersey, the school bus driver attempted a ridiculously dangerous illegal U-turn on a busy highway, while transporting our most valuable cargo, children. The bus driver had a long history of dangerous behavior which should have served as a warning to the company that hired him and put him behind the wheel. As a bus accident and truck accident attorney, it is unfathomable how the company could hire a driver and entrust our children to an individual with a history of violation of so many safety rules But it happens every day, usually with near misses.
The bus driver in the fatal school bus crash had a long record of dangerous driving and license suspensions. New Jersey motor vehicle commission spokeswoman, Marian Bellack told CNN eight of drivers past violations were for speeding. A speeding school bus can be difficult to stop on short notice, and stops very differently than a car. The 77-year-old driver had just had his license restored in January, 2008, four months before the crash which killed two and caused serious personal injury to willothers.
The trucking company, which had about 40 drivers was issued a approximately 50 safety violations in the past two years alone. Many were for failure to properly maintain their vehicles. The company was taken out of service about 38% of the time it was inspected. When a vehicle is taken out of service it indicates serious and dangerous safety violations.
Insurance companies describe crashes as “accidents”. The fact is, they are crashes, and almost all are avoidable if trucking companies hire safe drivers, and require the drivers to follow established safety regulations. The drivers learn and must know the safety regulations to earn their commercial drivers license (CDL). Buffalo truck and bus accident attorney John Feroleto cites the federal motor carrier safety regulations, and violations of the safety regulations as a cause of many big rig crashes, such as bus accidents or tractor-trailer collisions. “If the trucking company puts safety first, and requires compliance with the federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSR regulations) most crashes will not occur.” When drivers will follow minor safety rules, they will not attempt violation of major and obvious safety rules, such as not attempting an illegal left hand turn on an interstate highway, if the bus driver did in the fatal New Jersey interstate collision. Attorney Feroleto notes “any trucking companies do put safety first and have an excellent safety record”.
Surprisingly, many bus companies, including tour bus companies have poor enforcement of safety regulations and low-paid bus drivers. Some companies, such as those who provide school bus service, require drivers to have a split shift where they must start early in the morning, and finish a morning shift, and then not work during the day but returned in the afternoon for second half of a split shift. This limits the number of individuals available to drive a school bus. Tour bus and commercial bus operators may only offer drivers erratic and unreliable schedules, limiting the number of individuals who can accept this type of scheduling.
The vast majority of truck drivers and bus drivers are professional, safety minded individuals who would not risk serious personal injury to other users of the road. Those with a history of dangerous conduct should not be allowed to drive buses, or big rigs, and should not be hired by trucking companies. hiring drivers with proven record of recklessness put our families needlessly at risk. It is an accident waiting to happen.
When there is a truck or bus crash, insurance companies for the truck or bus companies will have investigators on the scene right away, talking to law enforcement, and witnesses and conducting their own investigation to bolster future arguments on the cause of the crash, and to minimize responsibility for harms caused to others who were injured. That is, insurance companies are immediately working to frame the facts in a way so they may get away with not paying for the damages caused to people seriously injured or paying as little as possible. If you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident or bus accident, you should contact a truck accident attorney or bus accident attorney immediately to protect your rights.