Fatal Bus Accidents in Wisconsin
Bus accidents are among the most serious of all types of crashes because of the number of passengers on board. When a bus crashes, it can result in many injuries, some of which could be serious or fatal. Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) collects and reports on data from crashes across the state on an annual basis. Fatal crash data is included in these reports. The number of reported passenger bus accidents was 437. Of these accidents, one was fatal, and 132 injuries were reported. 304 of the incidents resulted only in property damage. For purposes of this report, property damage must exceed $1,000. The data is for 2013, the most recent report.
There were a total of 501 fatal accidents including those involving buses, in 2016. There were 549 deaths due to these crashes. The number of accidents in Wisconsin was reportedly lower in 2016 than in the several prior years, but the number is still higher than 2011 or 2012.
In 2015, the population of Wisconsin was 5,771,337 and the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was 62,073 in millions. There were reportedly 523 fatal crashes with 566 deaths. This equates to 9.8 deaths per 100,000 people and 0.91 deaths per 100 million VMT. The national averages are 10.9 deaths for every 100,000 of the population and 1.13 fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled. The Wisconsin averages are lower than those in the country as a whole.
Just over half of fatal crashes, 53 percent, were single vehicle incidents. Slightly fewer than half, 47 percent, were multiple-vehicles crashes. The majority of crashes occurred in rural areas, a total of 360 incidents. 205 deaths happened in urban incidents.
Some of the driver factors that contributed to deadly crashes included speeding, tailgating, distracted driving, failure to yield to another vehicle, failure to stop, failure to obey a traffic signal and driving over the lines. In some cases, drivers were cited for traffic violations. Not all accident reports included contributing factors, and others included more than one.
Drowsy driving is also a factor that impacts bus drivers. Some drivers, especially those on long trips, could become fatigued. Driving while tired may cause difficulties that are similar to impairment from alcohol. In addition to driver factors, weather conditions and vehicle malfunction can cause or contribute to deadly accidents on the roads. Most of the reported incidents happened during the winter months of November, December, and February, months when ice and snow could make road travel more hazardous.
Wisconsin Bus Laws
Wisconsin has size restrictions on passenger buses that operate in the state. Buses must not have an overall height of more than 13.5 feet except double-decked buses. These may be up to 14.5 feet in height but may not operate on roads with speed limits more than 45 miles per hour. These vehicles also require special permits. Federal safety requirements are enforced and regulated through WisDOT. Annual safety inspections are required and urban transit systems must self-inspect and report the results.