Fatal Bus Accidents in Maine

Fatal Bus Accidents in Maine

Maine employs state troopers of the Maine State Police and qualified motor carrier inspectors to enforce the state’s laws and regulations regarding bus operation and safety. Their primary aim is to reduce the number of accidents on the state’s roadways and to ensure that they are safe for use by Maine’s residents and other road users.

Maine has seen an increase in the number of bus crashes in recent years. Injuries sustained in these accidents have also increased.

Maine’s Accident Statistics

Crash data is provided by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as follows:

YearTotal Bus CrashesFatalitiesInjuries

After recording three fatalities from bus accidents in 2013, Maine had no deaths for the following three years. This trend has been reversed with the deaths of two people in 2017. The statistics show an increase in the number of crashes and injuries from 2015 to 2016. The data for 2017 covers the first quarter of the calendar year, ending March 31.

Statistics for all 50 states published by the FMCSA show a slight decrease in numbers of fatalities from 2015, although injuries increased marginally. In 2016, the statistics recorded 4,702 deaths in bus accidents across the nation, and 91,328 injuries.

Accident Causes

A study was conducted by the FMCSA on 39 fatal bus crashes in a two year period to determine causation. They found the following events to have caused unavoidable collisions in 19 of these accidents:

  • Speeding in unsafe roadway or weather conditions
  • Changing lanes or running off the road
  • Stationary vehicle in the lane
  • Pedestrians stepping into the path of the bus

Of these crashes, fifteen were found to be caused by driver error which included inadequate surveillance, a lack of vigilance and driving too close behind another vehicle. The other four accidents were caused by brake failure, bus fire and ice on the roadway.

The study also identified other contributory factors that caused driver error:

  • Prescription drug use
  • Unfamiliarity with the route
  • Line of sight or impending problem obscured by an object or traffic flow
  • Defective hearing and vision
  • Misjudgment of distance or speed
  • Taking inadequate evasive action

Bus Operating and Safety Regulations

Under Maine state law, buses weighing more than 10,000 pounds are required to undergo a safety inspection each year. Maine’s motor carrier inspectors conduct safety audits of all Maine based carriers. The state has four permanent weigh stations on Interstate 95 which include inspection facilities.

Interstate carriers must be licensed by the FMCSA, while those that are Maine based must register with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Drivers of buses carrying sixteen or more passengers are required to undergo drug tests.

Vehicles must conform to Maine’s law regarding headlight illumination. Headlights must be switched on when using windshield wipers. Illumination is required in weather conditions that restrict vision to a distance of 1,000 feet ahead.

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