The National Highway Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems (FARS) defines a bus as a motor vehicle designed primarily to transport nine, or more persons, including the driver. The size of a bus and the passenger capacity increases the catastrophic outcomes when a bus is involved in an accident. Experienced San Gabriel bus accident attorneys can build winning cases to support damage compensation through their knowledge of the laws that regulate inter and intrastate travel, including driver screening and proficiency to ensure passenger safety.
Buses that offer a service to communities and charge a fee for the transportation service fall under federal common carrier laws. Public entities and private companies offer carrier services and are regulated by local, state, and federal laws, but the federal government regulates carriers that transport passengers across state lines under the Interstate Commerce Act and individual state law regulates travel within a state. Legal responsibility for common carriers mandates a higher level of care because of paid services to the public.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest vehicles on the road and children are safer taking buses to school rather than traveling by car. Safety standards for school buses are higher than regular government controlled transit and private buses. Federal regulations also require other passenger vehicles sharing the roadway with school buses to adhere to certain driving patterns and strict rules to ensure school bus safety.
- Poor training of bus drivers,
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Distracted driving,
- Limitations to bus driver visibility,
- Aggressive driving techniques, speeding, or dangerous maneuvering,
- Sudden acceleration, or braking,
- Poor bus maintenance,
- Fault of other vehicle drivers.
Bus drivers have different demands by regulation as to their safe ability to operate a passenger carrier. The specific medically disqualifying conditions found Under 49 CFR 391.41 are hearing loss, vision loss, epilepsy, and insulin use, with certain exemptions. Most commercial bus drivers are required to have commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL). The CDL regulations provide that “no person shall operate” a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)s before passing the written and driving tests required for that vehicle (§383.23(a)(1)).
School buses are required to carry higher insurance coverages governed by state law requirements outlining the amount of liability coverage required for school bus insurance. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), if a bus carries over 15 passengers, the bus must carry at least $5,000,000 in liability insurance coverage. Buses carrying fewer than 15 passengers must carry at least $1,500,000 in insurance coverage. While these amounts are considered to be the minimum limits, it is rare that buses will carry more than $5,000,000 in insurance.
An experienced San Gabriel bus accident attorney will work with insurance companies after an accident, to determine fair valuations of property, residual bodily harm, and make certain the insurance company’s offer represents resultant compensatory and punitive damages to cover all victim’s losses.