Last March a New York City tour bus fell off an elevated highway at 78 mph, struck a utility pole and killed 15 people. Authorities are still investigating the crash, with one passenger reporting the driver fell asleep at the wheel. After that tragedy a quick succession of traffic incidents involving buses caused increased concern for bus safety and commercial drivers in general. As one measure in response to those concerns, New York began an investigation of the validity of licenses for commercial drivers.
Law enforcement officials and the New York Department of Motor Vehicles are using facial recognition technology to catch individuals with more than one license. Over 3,000 people have been caught since the new technology was implemented last year and 600 have been arrested on felony charges.
Of those arrested, 173 drove commercial vehicles, such as buses, taxis and large trucks. These commercial drivers use additional licenses to either get more benefits or to hide previous traffic violations like driving under the influence arrests or other traffic violations. As of this writing, law enforcement officials removed approximately 100 bus drivers and 100 buses from New York roads.
In addition to the crackdown in New York, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced in May new measures aimed at preventing unsafe tour bus companies and drivers from getting on the road. Tour bus companies will now have to pass an audit before being allowed to operate, and new bus driver licenses will now require the possessor to first have a learner’s permit.
Accidents Involving Buses Pose Great Risk
Because of their size and lack of safety features, accidents involving buses can cause catastrophic injuries to both its passengers and other vehicles on the road. A worst-case scenario such as the tragedy in March may result in the deaths of multiple passengers. Unfortunately, hundreds of people die each year in bus accidents, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you have been involved in a traffic accident speak with a personal injury lawyer. While no one can take back the accident, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you get compensation for medical expenses, wage loss and other expenses that will allow you to focus on recuperation.