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Fatal Accidents in the Curbside Bus Industry

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The low-cost bus industry generally has a good safety record. However, when accidents do occur, they are more likely to involve fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently found that this part of the transportation section had a fatal accident rate seven times higher than well-known carriers such as Greyhound.

Low-cost buses, also known as curbside buses because they pick up and discharge passengers on the street rather than in terminals, got their start by offering fares as low as $1 per seat between East Coast Chinatowns. Such buses now provide inexpensive transportation to casinos and operate scheduled service between major cities throughout the United States. They are able to offer the intercity fares because they do not pay terminal fees and have few other overhead costs.

This part of the transportation industry has proven difficult for the government to monitor. Managers and drivers frequently do not speak English, and records are kept in other languages. They sell tickets online, which exempts them from some types of regulation. Because they do not stop at established terminals, it is harder for inspectors to monitor equipment. Moreover, there have been instances of companies being dissolved and re-established under other names or in other states, making it difficult for regulators to take action after safety violations are discovered.

A casino bus crashed in the Bronx in March of 2011, killing 15 people as it returned from the Mohegan Sun Casino. This cash triggered the NTSB report, which was requested by members of the New York congressional delegation.

Source: The New York Times, “High Fatality Rate Found for Low-Cost Buses“, by Michael M. Grynbaum, Oct. 31, 2011.


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New York scaffolding collapse injures 17 people

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Construction Accidents on Friday, September 30th, 2011

In a West 125th Street construction accident Tuesday, Sept. 20, a scaffold collapsed on a New York City bus, injuring 17 riders. Emergency workers on the scene announced that no injuries were life-threatening. In addition, no construction workers were on the five-story-high scaffold when it collapsed.

According to witnesses, the scaffold collapse occurred when bricks from the building, which was being demolished, fell onto the scaffolding with such force that the entire structure collapsed into the street below. At the time, most workers were working on an elevator shaft within the building. The scaffolding had been inspected on Sept. 7, but inspectors found nothing wrong with its condition.

According to one witness that was riding the bus at the time of the accident, the entire back of the bus filled with smoke and rubble crashed through the windows. After about a minute, the bus driver instructed the riders to exit the vehicle. Luckily, most people on the bus had just entered the vehicle from an uncovered stop where the scaffolding fell. If the scaffolding had fallen moments earlier, the injuries could have been much more severe.

New York City firefighters were quick to arrive on the scene, assisting the injured and clearing debris from the bus and street. The bus itself was driven down the street by a transit worker and towed away for repairs.

Source: The New York Times, “17 Injured as Scaffold Collapses Onto Bus in Harlem,” Andy Newman and Matt Flegenheimer, Sept. 20, 2011

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Upstate New York a breeding ground for bus crashes

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Friday, August 5th, 2011

A third bus crash in as many weeks in upstate New York occurred last Wednesday evening. A responding officer commented that this crash could have been a lot worse. Compared to the two other bus accidents, the 30 passengers on this bus were lucky. None of them was killed.

On July 22, one person was killed and 30 were injured in a bus crash in Seneca County. On July 18 in Steuben County, another bus crash claimed the lives of two people, and dozens more were injured.

The most recent crash occurred on Interstate 81. The weather was bad, with rain slicking the road. The bus driver, carrying twenty-eight tourists from Poland and their tour guide, lost control of the bus and went off the side of the road. The bus careened down an eighty-foot embankment and overturned onto its roof, coming to rest in a gully.

Nineteen passengers were taken to local area hospitals for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash. One woman was trapped under the roof of the bus for more than an hour before she was freed by rescue workers. Thankfully, all of the injured were released from hospitals by the next morning.

So far, troopers have not issued any tickets or determined what caused the crash. The bus driver passed sobriety tests. Although the cause of the crash is still being investigated, road conditions and the speed of the bus at the time of the crash could be important factors, and officers said their preliminary findings may indicate the driver was driving too fast for conditions.

Source: Press Connects, “All 19 hospitalized after tour bus crash released,” George Basler, Aug. 4, 2011

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Fatal New York accident on I-95 caused by lack of regulations

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Each year, millions of individuals ride on discount tour busses. However, the federal government has very few regulations to protect the safety of those individuals. Passengers are not required to wear seatbelts, and the few safety rules that are enforced are based on inaccurate driver logbooks.

After a discount bus caused a fatal accident on I-95, New York has focused an increasing amount of attention to the safety issues involved with the popular form of transportation.

The tour bus accident claimed the lives of 15 individuals. Now, New York Senator Charles E. Schumer is working with the National Transportation Safety Board to determine whether the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is doing enough to ensure the safety of passengers.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, buses must follow basic safety regulations and be driven by individuals who drive no more than 10 hours during a 15-hour workday. State officials enforce the rules randomly, usually at common chartered bus destinations such as casinos and amusement parks.

In order to drive a discount tour bus, individuals must only acquire a commercial driver’s license, which some say is too easy to obtain.

The driver of the bus involved in the I-95 crash had multiple run-ins with the law, including a manslaughter charge from 1990 and a charge for driving with a suspended license in 2003. The man also spent four years in prison after he was convicted of stealing nearly $84,000.

Although various agencies in New York are now looking into regulations to improve the safety of passengers on discount busses, their efforts come a little late. Hopefully they will be able to implement changes before the lack of regulations injures more innocent victims.

Source: The New York Times, “Lax Rules for Discount Buses Cited After I-95 Crash,” Michael M. Grynbaum and Patrick McGeehan, 14 March 2011

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Seat Belts on the School Bus

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Friday, August 6th, 2010

A recent bus crash in Gray Summit, Missouri has National Transportation Safety Board members looking at accident prevention and safety measures on the large school buses that millions of children ride to school, sporting events and other destinations every year. The devastating crash killed one 15-year-old student, as well as the driver of another vehicle.

The accident occurred when a semi-truck driver slowed down for construction work and was struck by a pickup truck. A large school bus, carrying high school students to an amusement park, rear-ended that accident and was following shortly by a second school bus. The accident left one bus pushed almost all the way to the top of the semi.

In addition to those killed in the bus crash, many students were undoubtedly left with bruises and cuts.  

It seems strange that, while every state requires seatbelt use for children riding in personal vehicles, only six states require that school buses even come equipped with seatbelts.

New York is one of those states, and while each school district is given the authority to mandate seatbelt use, all New York school buses must be equipped with seatbelts. This rule applies to all buses built after July 1, 1987. (New York School Bus Seatbelt Law)

NTSB investigators are also looking into whether or not additional safety measures might have made the crash less likely, or flat-out prevented it. Some of the ideas being considered include an early warning system that would alert bus drivers to slowing traffic and an automatic brake that would kick in if the driver were too slow to respond.

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New York Bus Crashes, Injuring More than 20 Passengers

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Friday, June 25th, 2010

A New York bus carrying passengers bound for a casino on the Jersey Shore crashed yesterday morning, rolling through two vehicles before coming to a final, jarring halt at a retaining wall. Of the 50 individuals riding to the Tropicana Casino and Resort, nearly half were injured.

The driver, Chin Cheung Pang, was hurled through the bus’s front windshield during the impact. Based on the severity of his injuries, investigators initially believed that he had been run over by the bus. They later determined that his injuries were all suffered when he went through the glass.

He withstood severe injury to his arms and shoulder during the bus accident and, even after undergoing surgery, remains in critical condition.

Police are expected to attempt to recreate the accident sometime next week, but it is believed that Pang, traveling at a high speed, did not see that traffic had stopped. When he slammed on the brakes, the bus skidded forward, hitting two of the vehicles in its path and smashing into the retaining wall.

Investigators will also be looking at the bus’s data recorder, much like a plane’s black box, for more clues. Of the 20-some passengers sent to the hospital with injuries, a handful remains in intensive care.

It is almost certain that many more of the passengers involved in the crash will suffer some effects, such as whiplash. While no personal injury lawsuits have been filed yet, such a development seems likely given the circumstances.

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