Tour Bus Crashes Highlight Poorly Regulated Industry

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
November 26, 2019

Tour bus crashes have highlighted a poorly regulated industry for more than a decade. Although regulators took action in recent years, the issues continue. Innocent passengers are paying the price of negligence in the tour bus industry.

The crashes continue. Two people died and 44 were injured in DeSoto County, Mississippi in 2018 when a tour bus overturned in icy conditions. The bus company involved in the crash had a record of violations on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). It was just the latest crash to shed light on safety issues in the tour bus industry.

Although the FMCSA took action against some of the worst bus company operators, the serious crashes continue.

In 2012, in the wake of a series of horrific tour bus crashes, the Department of Transportation shuttered 26 tour bus companies in what it described as the “largest single safety crackdown” in its history.

The DoT described the bus companies as “imminent hazards to public safety,” according to a statement.

The operation followed a 12-month-long investigation into the small, badly regulated bus companies. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the action was intended to send a message to other tour bus companies.  Regulators closed down three larger bus companies, Apex Bus, I-95 Coach, and New Century Travel.

The operation followed a series of high profile bus crashes, one of them in Virginia.

In 2011, a bus hit a light pole that sheared off its roof and overturned in the Bronx in New York, killing 15 people and injuring 10.

A year later, a jury found the driver not guilty of manslaughter. The prosecution argued he was sleep-deprived before the World Wide Tours bus departed from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and headed down I-95 toward New York’s Chinatown.

In the same year, a tour bus crash on Interstate 95 North in Caroline County in Virginia overturned killing four people and injuring many others.

Driver Kin Yiu Cheung was convicted of manslaughter. He fell asleep as he was driving a Sky Express bus from Greensboro, N.C., to New York City on May 30, 2011.

The National Transportation Safety Board said driver fatigue likely contributed to the crash. It concluded the driver had limited opportunities for quality sleep the previous few days, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Your Rights in a Virginia Your Bus Crash

When you travel on a commercial bus, you trust your safety to the driver and the operator of a tour bus company. However, the recent bus crashes reveal how some tour bus operators play fast and loose with safety.

Department of Transportation probes have revealed how unacceptable pressures and long hours are imposed on bus drivers. Many of the bus operators were accused of maintenance violations.

One of the bus companies closed down by the FMSCA was Scapadas Magicas, an operator responsible for a bus crash in California that killed eight people. The company failed to maintain its buses and ensure that its drivers were licensed, CNN reported.

The FMSCA’s hours of service regulations provide rules for drivers of passenger carrying vehicles. They may drive a maximum of 10 hours after eight hours of rest

Although many smaller bus operators were identified in probes, larger bus operators have also been involved in fatal wrecks.

In 2018, eight people were killed in a Greyhound Bus wreck in New Mexico. A lawsuit accused the California-based trucking company and one of the company’s drivers of negligence.

A semitrailer crashed into the bus after the tread separated on one of the truck’s tires and it veered across the road, causing the crash.

Private bus companies like Greyhound or MegaBus are considered common carriers. They are regulated by specific state and federal laws.

Bus operators and their drivers have a duty to the highest degree of care to ensure the safety of its passengers.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Bus Accident Lawyer

Although tour bus and other commercial bus crashes occur less frequently than truck and car accidents, they are often very serious and involve the loss of multiple lives.

When tour buses overturn, crashes are often deadly and injuries are horrendous. At the Smith Law Center, we help the victims of tour bus, transit bus or school bus crashes. If you or a family member has been hurt in a bus crash, you may have grounds to sue a driver or an operator. Please call us today for a free and confidential consultation at (757) 244-7000.

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