As attorneys who represent the young man who is the most seriously injured surviving passenger in a major bus crash, we listened with great interest today to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) members explaining their findings about what caused the crash that took so many lives, and left so many injured.
Disastrous events such as this one can provide important “lessons” on how needless injuries and deaths can be prevented. Most disturbing about today’s hearing was the sense that past lessons from other horrific wrecks have been ignored. Here is just some of what the NTSB discussed today:
The NTSB placed primary responsibility for the crash on the bus driver, who among other things veered onto an exit ramp at high speed (in excess of the speed limit), and failed to react by slowing the bus, apparently because he believed he was still in the HOV lane. As is well-documented, the bus then struck a railing on the overpass, and toppled from the overpass onto the interstate below, which caused many passengers to be ejected. More here @ https://www.carabinshaw.com/odessa-truck-accidents.html
The NTSB discussed evidence that the driver had driven 10 1/2 hours the day before to meet this bus, and then started driving this bus at 4:30 a.m. with at most 6 1/2 hours of sleep. One NTSB member referred to the driver as an an “unqualified driver” because his medical certificate had expired, and noted that the bus company failed to monitor and instruct drivers as to their medical qualifications to drive. The NTSB had other criticisms as well.
What is also disturbing is the lessons not taken from the history of earlier fatal wrecks on this same exit ramp. The NTSB noted that this ramp had been the site of nine wrecks–three of them fatal–in the past, six of which had been single-vehicle wrecks. The drivers involved were not from the area, the NTSB observed.
As one NTSB member stated, the State Department of Transportation “missed the boat” in failing to identify the exit properly with adequate signage, and failing to install adequate traffic control devices, among other things, for the “unexpected” arrangement that drivers found at this exit. NTSB thus identified these failures as a contributing cause of the horrendous wreck.
The NTSB also discussed DOT’s failure to respond appropriately to the documented history of wrecks and fatalities at this same location.
The NTSB discussed the need for greater protection of occupants of buses. Prior bus crashes show that occupants are killed or injured because of the absence of simple protections such as seat belts–there were none on this bus. Here is one excerpt:
“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the motor coach driver’s mistaking the HOV-only left exit ramp. Contributing to the accident driver’s route mistake was the failure of the State Department of Transportation to install adequate traffic control devices to identify the separation and divergence of the HOV-only left exit ramp. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the motor coach’s lack of an adequate occupant protection system.” Please click this link @ https://corpus-christi-auto-accident.com/truck-accident-lawyer/
We can only hope and pray that the lessons of this crash–which should have been learned previously–will not be ignored this time.
Carabin & Shaw P.C.
630 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78215