Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Bus Accidents

Looks like swine flu isn’t the only thing racking up the body count in California.

Going through the news, I read from the Los Angeles Times about a bus crash in Monterey County that left four people dead with more than thirty more injured.

It was an Orion Pacific tour bus carrying French Canadian tourists from San Francisco to Santa Maria. According to the article, the bus hit a guard rail on the two-lane southbound overpass, where it overturned and threw out three or four passengers at least 30-40 feet from the site.

Unfortunately, this bus crash isn’t the first for California and even more unfortunate is the fact that it isn’t even the first bus accident for this month as I remember reading two other bus accidents a week or two ago.

It just goes to show that we are simply not doing enough to make public transport particularly, commercial buses, safe for the public. One can’t help but sympathize with National Transportation Safety Board’s oft-repeated calls about the lax oversight of the commercial bus industry and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s failure to implement their recommendations that could lead to new safety equipment on buses, including seatbelts and stronger roofs and windows.

California laws actually place a higher duty of care on bus drivers to drive reasonably than an average driver. So in bus accidents, the blade cuts both ways, the negligent driver and the employer.

In times like this, there can only be regret—regret on the part of relevant government agencies who have been sitting on their hands instead of being proactive, regret for the part of the bus driver who may or may not have been negligent in the performance of his duty and yes, regret on the part of the employer for having failed to be more vigilant about the skills and qualifications of the person he has hired.

Bus accidents are deaths that could have been easily prevented and that on its own, is what makes it all the more tragic.