Fatal Bus Accidents in Minnesota
State troopers and civilian motor carrier inspectors employed by the Commercial Vehicle Section of the Minnesota State Patrol are responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations governing the operation and safety of buses on the state’s roadways. Regular inspections are conducted at weigh stations, and the Section is also involved in training programs to educate drivers and carrier operators on Minnesota laws and regulations.
Law enforcement personnel also conduct random roadside inspections of buses. Their main goal is to ensure the safety of all motorists and other users of roads and highways in Minnesota.
Fatality and Injury Statistics
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There has been a downward trend in the number of fatalities in bus accidents since 2013. For the first three months of 2017, no deaths were recorded. In 2016, the number of injuries also decreased from the previous year.
Combined statistics for all states show a downward trend in fatalities since 2015. In 2016, there were 297 deaths on U.S. roads from 16,476 crashes that resulted in 17,624 injuries.
All these statistics are drawn from the databases of the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System).
A study shows that driver error may not only be due to distraction, misjudgment or lack of ability. Prescription drug use and problems with vision and hearing were also found to have a role in causing bus accidents.
The study was conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which was mandated to determine the factors that contribute to bus crashes. They focused on analyzing 39 accidents that caused fatalities or serious injuries. Of these cases, 19 collisions were found to be unavoidable for several reasons:
- Following a vehicle ahead too closely
- Insufficient surveillance
- Lack of attention
- Defective brakes
- Icy roadway
- Bus fire
In 15 of the 19 crashes, driver error was to blame. The FMCSA concluded that many of these collisions could have been avoided if more attention had been paid by drivers, which would have enabled them to respond to critical situations sooner.
The study found that accidents were unavoidable by pedestrians stepping into the driving lane, speeding in unsafe roadway or weather conditions, encountering a stationary vehicle in the driving lane, changing lanes or running off the road.
Minnesota’s Bus Laws and Regulations
State laws impose limitations on the width, height, and length of passenger buses in Minnesota. Construction standards are prescribed for rollover protection and roof crush resistance. Brakes must meet prescribed performance standards.
The provision of emergency, safety, and wheelchair equipment on buses is regulated. Under Minnesota law, all buses, including those providing Special Transportation Services (STS), must undergo an annual inspection by a certified mechanic or the Minnesota State Patrol.
Procedures are laid down for rail crossings. Buses transporting passengers with special needs must ensure that wheelchairs are correctly secured. STS drivers must undergo physical and medical examinations and must be qualified to assist passengers with special needs.