North Carolina Bus Passengers Using Cost-Efficient Operators At Higher Risk of Winston-Salem Bus Accident

Curbside buses may be more economical than taking a charter bus around town with one-way fares ranging from $1 to $5 with an advanced purchase, but a recent study has shown that smaller buses aren’t as safe.

This is one instance where saving a few pennies isn’t worth the ultimate risk you take of being a passenger on a short bus involved in a Winston-Salem bus accident.
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The Wall Street Journal reports that low-cost buses have been found to be involved in fatal accidents 7 times more often than conventional buses that are typically more expensive. Following a Bronx bus accident last March that killed or injured more than 30 people, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was forced to take a closer look at bus accidents occurring throughout the country.

Questions still need answered on how many companies offer curbside service or how many miles these buses actually travel throughout the year. Bus operators have an obligation to keep passengers safe but the government is having a difficult time monitoring these fly-by-night companies that offer lower fares to customers. These companies cut overhead costs by not having to pay operators at terminals the fees that more reputable charter companies have to pay.

Greensboro bus accident lawyers know that times are rough but consumers shouldn’t compromise on safety in order to save a few pennies. Keep in mind if you are taking a tour around town to see holiday lighting spectaculars or events, choose your bus company wisely to reduce the risk of a bus accident with a less than reputable company.

The NTSB recently released these key findings from their first comprehensive study of the motorcoach industry:

  • Accident rates and roadside inspection violations are higher for curbside carriers who operate with 10 buses or less and have been in business for 10 or fewer years.
  • From January 2005 to March 2011, curbside bus carriers had an accident rate of 1.4 per 100 vehicles compared to conventional charter operators having a fatal accident rate of 0.2 per 100 vehicles during the same time period.
  • Curbside carriers are often excluded from routine inspections while enroute which makes it difficult to keep tabs on or cite these companies for safety violations.
  • Many of the low-cost bus companies require drivers to work longer hours to cut costs to the company which in turn creates a tremendous concern for passenger safety when a driver becomes fatigued.
  • Curbside operators use online bus brokers which creates a lack of efficiency for tracking ticket sales. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has no authority to control sales through brokers.
  • The FMCSA can’t keep up with compliance reviews for over 765,000 motor carriers. There is currently a ratio of 1.15 investigators per 1,000 motor carriers that need inspected.

Curbside buses pick up passengers at locations other than terminals. From April 2009 to March 2011, curbside carriers were cited for unsafe driving violations at a rate of 22.4 per 100 buses, compared to conventional buses being cited at a rate of 26.4 per 100 buses for unsafe violations. In addition, low-cost operators were cited for fatigued driver violations at a rate of 16.7 compared to conventional operators at 11.2 for the same violation.

Bus passenger safety is a growing concern because since March 2011, there have been five accidents being investigated by NTSB that have resulted in 22 deaths and 159 injuries. Operating companies need to be held accountable for safety measures and take every precaution to keep passengers safe.

“Business and safety practices within the growing curbside bus industry create challenges for enforcement authorities and consumers alike when it comes to separating the safe operators from the unsafe operators,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

If you have been involved in a bus accident involving a large or small operating charter company, contact an experienced injury lawyer to help work through the case and get sound advice. Charter bus companies often have powerful representatives who can try to wiggle out of company negligence, so seek your own legal representation that can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

The North Carolina bus accident attorneys at the Lee Law Offices, P.A., are ready and available to assist injured victims in Greensboro, Charlotte, Winston-Salem or the surrounding areas. Call for a free appointment at 1-800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Low-Cost Bus ‘Wake-Up Call’, by Andrew Grossman, The Wall Street Journal.

More Blog Entries:

Winston-Salem School Bus Accident Injures 14 in Two-Bus Collision with a Passenger Vehicle, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, October 24, 2011.

Fatal N.C. Bus Accident by Company Rated ‘Unsatisfactory’, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, October 15, 2011.
Bus Accidents in North Carolina Often Accountable to Charter Company Negligence, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, September 23, 2011.

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