When Trucks Collide with Buses

What steps are being taken to enhance bus safety regulations in California?

In 2014, a tractor trailer crossed over a median on Interstate 5 near Oakland and crashed into a charter bus that was carrying students on a trip to a Northern California college. Five of the students were killed along with three chaperones. Both drivers also died. In response to the crash, California lawmakers pushed legislation designed to improve the safety of large vehicles such as charter buses. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.

In short, charter buses made after July 1, 2020 that are built to carry 39 or more passengers must be equipped with emergency lighting that automatically activates after an accident. In addition, before any trip bus drivers must provide written or video instructions to all passengers on how to use the safety equipment and emergency exits. While the new bus safety law is well intended, it fails to address the fact that tractor trailers cause a number of accidents.

The Perils of Tractor Trailers

Because of their size and weight, a collision with a truck is often catastrophic for the drivers and passengers of other vehicles. There are a number of reasons for accidents involving tractor trailers including truck driver mistakes, trucker fatigue and distracted driving.

Because truck drivers usually have tight delivery deadlines and are forced to cover long distances, truckers are prone to fatigue or becoming distracted, with devastating consequences. Accidents can also be caused by poor weather and road conditions. Moreover trailers that are overweight, or carrying unsafe or unsecure loads can be deadly. A leading cause of tractor trailer accidents, however, is improper maintenance. In cases such as this, the trucking company may be held liable.

Truck Safety Laws at a Glance

There are a variety of state and federal truck safety laws in place, including requirements that trucks be properly maintained and routinely inspected. In this regard, it is necessary for trucking companies to keep records of repairs and maintenance as well as safety inspections. In addition, state  law restricts the size and weight of these vehicles, and there are  rules regarding cargo loads.  Lastly, truckers are required to have special licenses and adhere to hourly driving limits.

The Takeaway

The recent measure signed by the governor is designed to make charter buses safer. At the same time, there are numerous state and federal truck safety laws that are designed to keep the roads safe. Nonetheless, bus accidents and tractor trailer accidents are still likely to occur in Northern and Southern California. The experienced attorneys at the J&Y law firm fight for the rights of accident victims.