News of a tour bus crash that resulted in one fatality and several serious personal injuries in southern Illinois in August 2012 shocked many Illinois residents. The bus, which had left Chicago for St. Louis, was a privately operated inter-city tour bus. In another deadly incident in Chicago just days later, a 76-year-old pedestrian died when a tour bus side-swiped her.
Such “megabus” operations have become popular because they offer inexpensive fares. Also, many companies now offer daily bus trips to casinos in Joliet, Elgin and Rock Island, Illinois.
But privately operated tour buses have also become notorious across the country due to serious accidents. In 2011, there were eight serious tourist bus crashes, resulting in 28 occupant deaths, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says.
In May 2012, the FMCSA launched the single largest safety crackdown in its history and shut down 26 bus operations, declaring them imminent hazards to public safety. The FMCSA also ordered 10 individual bus company owners, managers and employees to cease all passenger transportation operations, including selling bus tickets to passengers.
In a follow-up report, the FMCSA said its investigators had found multiple safety violations among all of the carriers, including:
“These many safety deficiencies, individually and in combination, posed a serious safety threat to passengers and motorists on our roadways,” the FMCSA said.
Common causes of privately operated tour bus crashes, as cited by the FMCSA action plan for avoiding such incidents, include:
Cell phone use by drivers is particularly dangerous. An April 2011 FMCSA study concluded that it is “clear that wireless communication devices, such as cell phones, are widely adopted and present in CMVs (commercial motor vehicles). The analysis suggests that these sources of distraction may increase the risk of safety-critical events occurring.”
In November 2011, the FMCSA announced a total prohibition on using hand-held cell phones while operating a commercial truck or bus.
Additionally, there is a concern that tour bus operators may be overloading buses with passengers in Chicago, Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. In 2012, the FMCSA issued a safety advisory bulletin warning that a tire on a bus “loaded beyond its weight rating, operated at highway speeds for a significant period of time, is more likely to overheat and fail, possibly placing the lives of passengers and other motorists at risk.”
Unfortunately, unscrupulous operators and/or negligent drivers are not always guided by safety rules and regulations when there is money to be made. When skirting or ignoring rules and regulations contributes to accidents that cause injury and death, those responsible can and should be held accountable. This includes drivers and the companies who employ them. Those injured or who suffer the loss of a loved one in a bus crash deserve to be compensated.
If you or a loved one of yours has been injured in an Illinois tour bus or “megabus” accident, you have a right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact a Chicago accident attorney at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., today for a free and confidential evaluation of your case. Call us toll free or complete our online contact form.