Fatal Bus Accidents in Louisiana
The Louisiana State Police are responsible for enforcing safety and operating regulations for buses traveling on the state’s road and highway infrastructure. They are entitled to stop any vehicle on the roadside to inspect it for road-worthiness and conformance to statutory regulations.
Louisiana has seen an increase in fatalities and injuries from bus accidents in recent years. Early indications are that 2017 will show a further rise in these statistics.
|Year||Total Bus Crashes||Fatalities||Injuries|
Crash data is sourced from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System).
The statistics for 2017 only cover the first three months of the calendar year, up to March 31. Fatalities increased substantially in 2016 with nine people killed compared to two in 2015. There was also a 20 percent increase in the number of injuries in 2016. Although there were no deaths in bus accidents in the first quarter of 2017, projections would seem to indicate that Louisiana will end the year with more crashes than in 2016.
Louisiana is showing a reversal of the national trend in these statistics. The number of fatalities and injuries has been increasing in Louisiana. However, across the United States, the trend shows a decrease in fatalities from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, there were 326 deaths and 17,349 injuries, while 297 fatalities and 17,624 injuries were recorded in 2016.
Crash Contributing Factors
Under the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, the United States Department of Transportation was directed to conduct a study into the factors that contribute to commercial vehicle accidents. Accordingly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ( FMCSA) carried out a study and reported their findings in 2009 on the causes of bus crashes.
The sample for their study consisted of 39 accidents over a two year period that resulted in fatalities or injuries. They identified the following events that made collisions unavoidable in 19 of the crashes:
- Pedestrians stepping into the path of the bus
- Speeding in unsafe conditions
- Veering out of the lane or off the road
- Another stationary vehicle in the driving lane
The study also concluded that there were other factors associated with these crashes. These included:
- Inadequate vigilance
- Driving too closely to the vehicle up ahead
- Defective brakes
- Icy roadway
In 15 of the 19 crashes that were assigned unavoidable events, driver error was determined to be the overriding cause.
Commercial Vehicle Laws and Regulations
The Louisiana Revised Statutes requires passenger buses to carry flares and other warning devices. Buses are also required to display warning signs and devices when they are disabled. All passenger buses are required to use red flags when parking.
The regulations specify certain requirements for brake performance. All buses are required to stop at railroad crossings.
Transit buses must undergo inspection every year. Operators are expected to maintain their vehicle fleet in safe operating condition.