A rash of recent fatal accidents have brought into focus a troubling and dangerous trend in the motor bus industry. Many people are astonished that you can travel from Philadelphia to New York for a few dollars and have free wireless internet on the bus. How can such companies make a profit? The cheapest Amtrak train ticket is $64 ONE WAY! The evidence is becoming clearer that one way is to cut corners on safety.
Motor buses or “motor coaches”, as they are sometimes known, are huge vehicles carrying dozens of passengers. While tractor trailers are also large vehicles, their cargo is freight, not people, and the risks, while still high, are not as great to life and limb.
Lawyers who handle Motor bus cases have seen a disturbing trend toward poorly trained drivers. We have seen drivers who cannot follow simple commands or instructions in English and whose safety training is suspect.
The Federal regulations do not require that commercial driver’s take the test in English but they do require drivers to have a sufficient command of English so they can follow the commands and questions of law enforcement officers. I recently took the testimony of a truck driver who needed an interpreter to answer even the simplest questions. He did not even have a green card to work legally in the US. I am investigating a case where a driver for a bus company could not speak to a police officer when pulled over because he could not understand the questions. After a recent fatal accident, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Records showed that 4 drivers could not answer questions or basic commands in English. These cheap bus trips are a big attraction for students, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged seeking cheap travel. It would behoove all to check the credentials of any bus company before getting inside.
James Ronca is a civil trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience. As an attorney with Anapol Weiss in Philadelphia, PA, his practice includes pharmaceutical and medical device cases, major car and truck collision cases, and construction site injury litigation. Jim has won complex crash cases with multiple plaintiffs and defendants including cases involving as many as 47 vehicles.