Fatal Bus Accidents in Michigan
The Michigan State Police cover a broad area of responsibility for motor carrier enforcement. They investigate bus accidents and conduct regular inspections of vehicles at the roadside and at weigh stations in the state. Their primary focus is to ensure that all vehicles conform to statutory regulations and that they are safe to travel on the state’s roadways.
The following data for bus collisions is supplied by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and MCMIS (Motor Carrier Management Information System):
|Year||Total Bus Crashes||Fatalities||Injuries|
A high number of fatalities were recorded in 2014, but this dropped and leveled off in the two subsequent years. Five deaths were reported in both 2015 and 2016 when a similar number of injuries were recorded. The records for 2017 only reflect the statistics up until March 31. If these are extrapolated, 2017 is on course to record similar numbers of accidents and injuries, although deaths may increase.
Nationally, there was a decrease in the number of fatalities across the United States in 2016 when 297 people were killed and 17,624 injured in 16,476 crashes. Indications from national statistics in the first three months of 2017 are that the number of fatalities will not increase.
Crash Contributing Factors
Many bus accidents are caused by drivers being distracted or not paying due attention to what is happening around them. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) carried out a study of bus collisions together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine the factors that contributed to accidents.
They analyzed 39 crashes involving 40 buses resulting in deaths and serious injuries that occurred over a two year period. Twenty-six of these vehicles were motor coaches. The FMCSA identified 19 accidents that were unavoidable due to the following events:
- A stationary vehicle in the driving lane
- Driving out of the lane or off the roadway
- Pedestrians stepping into the driving lane
- Speeding in unsafe conditions
However, the study also concluded that many of these crashes could have been avoided if drivers were more attentive and able to react sooner. Driver error was identified as the reason for unavoidable collision in 15 of the 19 crashes. These included:
- Inadequate vigilance and surveillance
- Driving too close behind the vehicle ahead
Several other factors were tagged as being instrumental in causing accidents:
- Driver misjudgment of speed or distance
- Prescription drug use
- Making illegal maneuvers
- Obstruction of line of sight
- Problems experienced with vision or hearing
Safety Laws and Regulations
The Michigan Administrative Code requires bus operators to allow an inspection of vehicles before being granted a license to operate. These inspections are also required prior to license renewal.
The Code also imposes rules for endorsing drivers who suffer from certain medical conditions and requires them to undergo a medical examination. All bus operators must report any accident involving one of their vehicles to the Michigan Department of Transportation.