A recent tour bus crash in California that so far has claimed eight lives is a disastrous example of what can go tragically wrong when many potential commercial vehicle dangers come into play.
While the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fatal accident, several facts have been documented in media reports. On the night of February 3, a bus carrying 38 people was traveling down a Southern California mountain two-lane road after a ski outing. The bus lost control, hit an automobile, then collided with a pick-up truck that was in the opposite lane, which caused the bus to topple and roll off the road.
The 72 year-old driver of the pick-up truck and seven passengers on the bus were killed. Dozens more were injured and several are still hospitalized.
That is what’s known. What is not known yet is the cause or causes of the deadly bus accident.
Two Possible Causes for Fatal Tour Bus Crash
According to news stories, at least two possible causes are under investigation, both of which are common in commercial truck and bus accidents:
• Maintenance neglect – The bus was 17 years old and the driver said its brakes failed as he drove down the mountain road. The bus carrier had been cited for vehicle maintenance violations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over the past two years.
• Driver error – The California Highway Patrol is reportedly investigating whether the driver was traveling too fast or was too tired to drive, per interviews with passengers immediately after the crash.
Potentially muddying the waters further, the bus was leased from the carrier by another company, which organized the outing.
This terrible accident serves as a reminder as to the potential catastrophic consequences when mistakes are made. Crashes involving buses, trucks, and other commercial vehicles typically involve numerous factors and parties, and determining cause and assigning responsibility can be a complex process.