Fatal Bus Accidents in South Dakota
South Dakota provides detailed yearly reports of traffic accidents through the Department of Public Safety, Office of Highway Safety. The South Dakota Department of Transportation gathers and reports data on accidents that occur within the state.
In 2016 there were 111 reported crashes that involved a bus. Of these, one was a fatal crash which was 0.7 % all fatalities. Additionally, there were 22 reported injuries. Nationwide, the number of fatal bus crashes increased by 9 percent in 2015 over 2014. At the same time, the number of vehicle miles traveled, VMT, increased by 1.4 percent.
Factors That Contribute to Accidents
There are various factors that may contribute to crashes. These fall into two main categories including road conditions and driver factors. Road conditions are issues that happen outside the vehicle while driver conditions might occur due to driver error.
- Road Conditions
Conditions may happen to impair a driver’s vision, or there could be some type of physical obstruction on the roadway. The weather was reported to be factors in about 3.7 percent of all accidents. Weather conditions may also impact the ability to control the vehicle. Rain, sleet, ice, snow, and hail are all weather conditions that might make driving more hazardous.
In addition to weather, road obstructions are also reported to be a contributing factor in some crashes. Common issues are animals, vegetation, trees, billboards, billboards, and guard rails. Additionally, glare is an issue in some reported collisions. Road surface conditions were involved in about 15.6 percent of all accidents.
- Driver Contributing Circumstances Driver actions contribute to some collisions. The two most common problems were speeding and drinking. Speeding was a factor in 20.3 percent of crashes. Drinking had been a factor for 20.3 percent of drivers as well. There are some other issues that impact a driver while behind the wheel.
- Failure to Yield to Vehicle
- Distracted Driving
- Following Too Closely
- Running Off Road
- Failure to Keep Lane
- Improper Backing
Distracted driving includes the use of a cell phone or other electronic device as well as other distractions. Some other distractions could be reading, talking to passengers or eating while driving.
Driver fatigue is a problem that affects some long-distance bus drivers. When the driver is tired the driver needs to be replaced with another or the bus should pull over. Some companies address this issue by providing two drivers for long distance trips so they can take turns. Driving at night could make drivers feel drowsier, particularly when driving on long stretches of dark roadways.
Many bus drivers in South Dakota are required to have a commercial driver’s license, CDL. This type of license has special requirements that allow drivers to be able to maneuver large vehicles safely. Buses should be properly maintained and inspected to ensure they are functioning properly before each trip. Some common problems that occur with buses and trucks are tire or wheel defects and brake malfunction. When a mechanical failure occurs, it may be a contributing cause of a crash.