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IN bus co with speckled safety history causes serious bus accident, injures 58

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 8th, 2014

Princess Tours bus driver was speeding and driving recklessly when he caused crash

Princess Tours

I recently came across this NBC story about a dangerous Indiana trucking company that left four people seriously injured and sent a total of 58 to the hospital. It’s an example of how prior safety violations are one of the strongest statistical indicators of future crashes; point I’ve made repeatedly on this commercial transportation safety blog, as the trucking industry and lobbyists attack and work to change how violations and past crashes are currently being recorded.

Safety culture –  and “unrelated” safety violations (as the industry lobbyists working to change the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program (CSA) would call them) is part of a larger connection between respect for the federal regulations and the likelihood of a future bus accident.  That was, and is, the entire premise of the CSA.  The Transportation Research Board also has a wonderful synthesis paper that explains the connection between a weak safety culture, and the future likelihood of a preventable bus or truck accident.

The Princess Tours bus crash happened in the early morning hours in the southbound lanes of I-95 between Stafford and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Speed was a factor. It was a single vehicle accident and the driver involved has been charged with reckless driving, according to Virginia State Police State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller. Following investigation, the FMCSA listed three unsafe driving violations against the company, all speeding-related offenses.

Bus accidents do happen. But what makes this one notable is that prior to this accident, Princess Tours had received two separate citations for operating buses without proper inspection as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), and one violation for an outdated bus driver’s duty status.

In fact, only three weeks before this Virginia bus accident, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulators determined that Princess Tours had enough violations to be prioritized for federal intervention, according to FMCSA filings.

As an attorney, this fits the pattern of so many of the truck and bus accident injury cases that I’m asked to litigate. Princess Tours was known to be dangerous. In fact, it was known to be dangerous by the federal agency that is tasked with shutting down dangerous truck and bus companies.

This common theme – the FMCSA knowing about dangerous bus companies, or trucking companies, yet allowing them to continue operating on our roads and then a terrible injury or death occurs – once again appears.

And it reminds me of a terrible Kentucky truck accident that left six people dead last year. It was a similar scenario – a dangerous company that had no business operating was still in business, even though the FMCSA was aware of the safety violations.

Shortly after the accident, a Princess Tours representative expressed that the bus company was “deeply sorry for the crash.” My question to that representative is: How can that be? How can a bus company that cuts corners on safety, doesn’t properly maintain or inspect their buses, and doesn’t properly track its bus drivers’ hours of service, possibly be sorry for (inevitably) causing a serious bus accident?

Well, like every other bad bus company I’ve seen, I think the answer to that question is that they aren’t very sorry at all.

I’m troubled that Princess Tours, and other dangerous bus companies still don’t get the message: When you put profit over safety, people get hurt and killed. I’m even more troubled by the fact that FMCSA knew about this dangerous company but opted to allow it to continue operating.


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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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