Fatal Bus Accidents in Maryland

Fatal Bus Accidents in Maryland

The Motor Vehicle Administration attached to the Maryland Department of Transportation is responsible for planning and managing highway safety programs throughout the state. The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Maryland State Police enforces the laws and regulations governing the operation and safety of buses on the state’s roads and highways.

Fatalities from passenger carrier accidents reached a low point in 2016 when two people lost their lives. Within the first three months of 2017, this number had already been surpassed.

Fatality Trends and Statistics

YearTotal Bus CrashesFatalitiesInjuries

The number of people killed in bus accidents reached a high of 9 in 2015 from 455 crashes that also resulted in 633 deaths. There was a positive dip in the fatality count in 2016, even though the number of crashes went up along with the injuries. The data for 2017 is only for the first three months of the year, up to March 31. Unfortunately, the fatality count has already surpassed that of 2016.

These statistics are supplied by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and MCMIS (Motor Carrier Management Information System). Statistics for all states combined show a slight decrease in fatalities from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, a total of 4,726 people died on the nation’s roads as a result of bus accidents, and this figure dropped to 4,702 in 2016. Indications from the 2017 statistics to the end of March show that this national trend is likely to continue.

Commercial Bus Laws and Regulations

Maryland statutes and regulations have been adapted from those used by the FMCSA, with certain amendments. Under Maryland law, buses must conform to standards governing many aspects including:

  • Steering
  • Alignment
  • Suspension
  • Wheels and tires
  • Speedometers and odometers

The law also prescribes brake equipment to be used and standards for their performance. Commercial buses must also carry prescribed emergency equipment and conform to safety standards for fuel and exhaust systems, as well as lighting and electrical systems. Regulations provide a detailed checklist that must be followed in conducting preventative maintenance on buses.

Contributing Factors in Bus Accidents

In 2009, the FMCSA published a report on a study conducted on the causes and contributing factors in bus crashes. The administration recognized the difficulty in conducting a truly representative survey because of the relatively small number of interstate bus crashes that result in death or injury. However, they were able to complete the study using 39 crashes that occurred over a period of two years.

The FMCSA found that there were several reasons why bus drivers were unable to take timely measures to avoid collisions. These included:

  • Inattention and distraction
  • Poor vigilance or inadequate surveillance
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Brake failure
  • Ice on the roadway
  • Obstruction of line of sight by an object or flowing traffic

In certain cases, a driver’s ability to respond timeously in an emergency was impaired by prescription drug use, or by vision and hearing problems.

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