Fatal Bus Accidents in Washington
The Washington State Department of Transportation, WSDOT, collects and tracks data for all collisions in the state. Every year they issue a report or make this data available online. 625 crashes occurred with buses. 2 people died in bus accidents, 8 suffered serious injuries, and 177 had minor injuries. There were 437 incidents that had only property damage.
Fatal Crashes in Washington
The fatality rate in traffic crashes was on a downward trend from 2006 through 2013. In 2014 there was an increase in roadway deaths and another increase again from 2014 to 2015. This is taking into account that the number of registered vehicles increased as did the number of licensed drivers on the roads. The majority of crashes happened during daylight hours.
When a crash happens, there may be one or more factors that contributed to it. The most common contributing factors for all fatal accidents, including those involving buses are categorized by driver circumstances and non-motorist factors.
Driver Contributing Circumstances
The top ten most commonly reported contributing factors were:
- Alcohol or drug use
- Driver distraction
- Crossing center line
- Failure to yield
- Driver fatigue
- Disregarded traffic sign
- Mechanical failure
- Improper passing
- Improper backing
Of these issues, the most commonly reported was inattention or distraction, although this led to fewer deaths overall than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is important to note that circumstances were not reported in every case and in some instances, more than one was applied. Driver distraction encompasses many activities and contributed to 160 fatal crashes in 2015. The top reported distractions were:
- Interactions with passengers
- Using a handheld device
- Distractions outside the vehicle
There were some instances where the specific type of distraction was not known.
Non-Motorist Contributing Factors
Sometimes the driver is not responsible for circumstances that contribute to a collision. The reported factors that led to fatal crashes are typically related to pedestrians, bicyclists or location and include:
- Pedestrian or bicyclist under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure of pedestrian to yield to driver
- Failure to use crosswalk
- Bicyclist disregarded signal
- Pedestrian or bicyclist inattention
- Roadway accidents
In addition to these factors, bus drivers may be driving while drowsy. This could be possible when drivers are traveling long distances or working long hours. Driving while fatigued is especially dangerous for those who are responsible for a number of passengers. The safety of passengers is essential.
The law requires passenger buses to adhere to specific guidelines relating to a number of safety factors including such things as lighting, marking, windshields, braking and special equipment. Vehicles must meet all local, state and federal codes that are currently applicable to buses that carry passengers in Washington.