U.S. Buses and Trains Lack Safety Features that Are Standard Elsewhere
News stories about serious bus and train accidents often focus on the direct cause of the crash, whether it is a negligent driver, mechanical failure or something else. What sometimes goes unsaid is that several reasonably simple measures recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board and used successfully in other countries could cut down on mass transit accidents.
Amtrak, Greyhound and other major carriers have not adopted most of the reforms recommended by the NTSB, including such potential lifesaving measures as:
- Improving window safety — Windows can present different problems depending on the vehicle involved and the type of accident. During a bus crash, riders might be trapped if windows aren’t capable of serving as emergency exits. On the other hand, Amtrak trains and some other rail cars have large picture windows that can pop out on impact, allowing passengers to be ejected. The NTSB recommends making windows usable as exits but not prone to opening accidentally.
- Installing seatbelts and enforcing their use — For the past few years, newly manufactured buses have been required to install seatbelts for all passengers, but injuries persist because people do not necessarily wear them. California has instituted a law mandating that bus riders must buckle up, but that standard is not in place elsewhere. Many in the railroad industry remain skeptical about the safety value of seatbelts, focusing instead on cushioning seats and tables to minimize bodily harm upon impact.
- Securing objects — Luggage and other items on buses and trains are often unsecured in overhead racks or on the floor. In the event of a sudden stop, derailment or rollover, these objects can easily shift and move around the cabin. Even fellow passengers can become a hazard if they’re not buckled in.
There may be several factors that contributed to a bus or train accident, including operator negligence, mechanical defects and failure to follow safety recommendations. Identifying where the true fault lies can be a complicated process that should be entrusted to a personal injury attorney with an established track record handling these claims.
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson represents clients who have been hurt while riding on buses, subways, commuter trains and other modes of public transportation. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced New York mass transit accident lawyer, call us at 888.746.8212 or contact us online.