The driver of a bus carrying more than 50 people on a trip to a casino lost control on a wet U.S. 83 north of Laredo, causing the bus to go off the highway and rollover. Eight persons were killed and 44 were injured in the crash. It is unclear if the driver was traveling too fast for conditions or if some mechanical failure may have contributed to this tragic crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has begun investigating the crash, including locating the buses’ electronic data recorder, interviewing passengers and the driver and examining the crash scene. The NTSB investigations are very thorough and meticulous, which is why a spokesperson for the agency cautioned it could be 14 months before their findings are released. The Texas Department of Public Safety is also investigating the crash.
The records of yet another federal agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), were also of interest, as it was reported that OGA Charters, the charter company that operated the bus, has had a history of troubled buses.
One bus was ordered off the road twice in 2015 by inspectors to remedy brake problems. While the company had a “satisfactory” rating from the FMCSA in 2014, the company has had a higher than average number of maintenance or driver issues.
The company only has two buses. The bus involved in the crash was built in 1998, and older buses tend to have more maintenance problems, as everything on the bus is subjected to the wear and tear of the road and if not properly maintained, could lead to catastrophic failures of critical steering, brake and safety systems.
Passengers, literally place their lives in the hands of these companies. Shoddy maintenance, fatigued drivers or other types of negligence when operating these buses can lead to the scene that was described by the medical examiner who responded to the emergency as “horrific.”
Sadly, rollover crashes often have deadly consequences, as regulations requiring seat belts, which could prevent passengers from being thrown around and ejected from the bus, does not become effective until November 2016.
Source: abcnew.go.com, “NTSB Investigates Cause of Texas Bus Crash That Killed 8, Injured Dozens,” BECKY PERLOW, May 16, 2016