In order to avoid having to park at the mall, you had the brilliant idea of taking the bus to do your holiday shopping. Yeah, not so brilliant. Apparently everyone else in the state had the same idea. As your bus pulled up to you, you noticed that it had about 50 people already crammed into it.
You slowly inched your way in and grabbed the nearest pole to steady yourself. You tried to stay behind the yellow line, but the passengers behind you kept pushing you forward. You planted your feet and leaned backward to keep from falling over. Unfortunately, the man next to you wasn’t as familiar with physics. As soon as the bus hit a bump, the line of passengers behind him lurched forward and, like a line of dominos, they all fell forward until the man next to you was violently shoved into the driver.
The bus swerved and everyone was knocked around. By the time your neighbor was able to get himself off the driver, the bus was careening down a hill, straight toward a packed school bus. The driver slammed on his brakes, but there wasn’t enough time to stop. He made a desperate attempt to veer out of the way and managed to maneuver the bus so it sideswiped the school bus. As your bus came to a stop, pressed tightly against the yellow bus’s side, broken glass, twisted metal and a dozen unconscious passengers littered the floor. You could hear children and adults alike screaming and crying.
You can’t believe this happened. Honestly, what were the odds that a simple bump could cause so much wreckage? Then again, perhaps it wasn’t just the bump.
Risks of Passenger Overcrowding
The National Center for Transit Research estimates that nearly 2,500 transit bus crashes occur each year, injuring over 8,000 passengers, pedestrians and motorists. According to the Federal Transit Administration, one factor affecting the accident rate is bus overcrowding. When a bus becomes overcrowded it has the potential to cause the following problems:
- Increased driver distractions: controlling a bus is hard enough without constant distractions. Unfortunately, even a small number of passengers can be extremely loud and distracting. However, when you double or even triple the number of passengers that a driver is used to blocking out, the distractions can become nearly impossible to ignore. The noise level immeasurably increases as well as the amount of peripheral movement, making it very difficult for a driver to safely focus on the road and his surroundings.
- Balance issues: as with most large vehicles, buses must remain balanced to prevent tip-over accidents. However, when a bus becomes overcrowded and passengers cluster into packs in order to find a spot to stand and sit, the balance of the bus can become compromised. Not only does this imbalance create control issues when changing lanes, but it can cause catastrophic problems when making turns. In addition, improper balance within the cab can cause passengers to lose their own footing, causing injurious accidents inside the bus, while also causing control issues for the bus itself.
- Increased stopping distance: the more mass a vehicle has, the longer its stopping distance. Therefore, if a bus driver knows that at full capacity (industry standard is 1.25 times the number of seats) his stopping distance at 30 mph is 75 feet, he may always try to keep at least 75 feet of distance between the front of the bus and the car ahead of him. However, if the bus is overcrowded (1.5, 1.75, or even 2.00 times its normal capacity) the stopping distance could increase to 150 feet without the driver realizing it. So if he believes that a 75 foot clearance is enough, he could wind up misjudging his stopping distance and crash into the vehicle ahead of him.
- Higher injury rates: the more people stuffed into the bus, the more chances of collision injuries, passengers bumping into one another and passengers getting pushed out of the bus when the doors open.
- Increased potential for design fails: buses are designed to hold a maximum number of passengers. When that number is exceeded, the bus’s function and design begin to fail. Too much weight will make it sluggish and unpredictable, too much bulk can have adverse effects on door strength (if too much pressure is forced toward a door, it could pop open while the bus is moving), and too much mass can cause braking failure.
Knowing When Full Is Too Full
Riding a bus is an economical and environmentally-conscious decision. However, in order to make it a healthy decision as well, you must make sure you follow safety precautions. If a bus is so full that people are practically standing on other passengers, don’t add to the crowd. Instead, wait for the next bus; you’ll not only be able to breathe easier, and keep your toes intact, but you’ll also be safer and help lessen the effects and dangers of overcrowding.
If you've been injured in a bus wreck you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
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