Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

The recent death of an 11-year-old girl who was accidently thrown from a Portland party bus, as outlined in The Oregonian, is raising many disturbing questions about this often under-regulated industry and about the conduct of the adults involved. According to the newspaper, the child died when she “tumbled out of an emergency window when the bus turned a corner.” This Portland fatal child injury accident would be bad enough by itself, but the details surrounding it are truly shocking.

The Oregonian reports that the victim was part of a large group of children who were board the party bus with no adult supervision. The vehicle’s 61-year old driver was the only grown-up on board the bus. Moreover, the driver himself “wasn’t permitted to operate a party bus carrying about 20. The bus didn’t have a permit from the city of Portland, either” the newspaper adds.

The amount of irresponsibility on display here is really quite stunning. Why did the company let a driver lacking the proper license operate any of its vehicles, let alone one carrying children? Why would it even allow a party bus filled with children out on the road without any adult supervision? Even if the driver were properly qualified to operate the vehicle, a bus driver who is doing his job cannot do so safely while also supervising nearly two dozen children.

The Oregonian reports that a Portland auto accident involving a car and a Tri-Met bus recently sent two people to the hospital with what authorities described as “minor injuries.”

Citing a spokesperson for the Portland-area bus service, the newspaper reports that the accident recently occurred “at Southeast 7th Avenue and Southeast Taylor Street. She said the vehicle, carrying three people, is believed to have been traveling at a high speed when the driver failed to stop and struck the bus on its left side.”

Both of the injured people transported to hospital were traveling in the car. The bus driver was not injured and the bus, which was traveling to a Tri-Met garage at the time of the Oregon car and bus accident, was carrying no passengers. That last fact is fortunate: it is likely that the lack of passengers minimized the potential damage from the Portland car crash.

Accidents involving school buses are arresting enough, but for two Oregon school bus accidents to take place in the same town – on the same road – in just three days is, to say the least, striking.

According to the Albany Democrat-Herald the first accident took place on a Friday afternoon earlier this month in Lebanon, southeast of Salem. In that incident, “a van pulling onto Highway 20 from Highway 226 hit the left side of a Bandon School District bus,” the newspaper reports. The van’s driver and her passenger – an elderly couple from Corvallis – were both hospitalized with “non-life-threatening injuries.” Two students on the bus were also injured and were taken to a separate hospital.

The following Monday, in the second incident, a nine-year-old boy was injured as the result of another Oregon School Bus crash on Highway 20. This incident, which took place just north of Lebanon, was part of a three vehicle Oregon car crash that began when one car waiting to make a left turn was rear-ended by another vehicle. The impact sent the first car out into the intersection, and into the path of the oncoming school bus. In addition to the child on the bus, the driver of the car that caused the rear-end collision was injured in the incident.

A recent frightening incident on I-205 led to a multi-vehicle Oregon auto crash involving a pick-up truck, a large commercial truck and a TriMet bus. A man from Monmouth was injured, several other vehicles damaged and the busy road was closed for several hours during morning rush hour, according to both The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune.

The chain of events leading to the crash began with a driver “passing on the right shoulder” who then abruptly “cut back into traffic,” according to The Oregonian. The driver of a pick-up swerved to avoid the reckless driver, went into a spin and crashed into a tractor-trailer. A TriMet bus traveling behind the pick-up also swerved in an effort to avoid the unfolding accident but wound up becoming part of it. Exactly what happened to the reckless driver who set all of this in motion is not mentioned in the media accounts – a fact which implies that the person ultimately responsible managed simply to drive away (particularly since both newspapers report that the police did not issue any citations at the scene of the multi-vehicle Oregon traffic crash).

That only one person was hurt in such a complex Oregon highway accident is a testament to the importance of seat belts. According to the Tribune “all drivers were using safety restraints.” That, at least, can be taken as a good sign. It was also surely fortunate that the bus was empty at the time of the accident. As I have noted in previous posts, TriMet has had a couple of difficult years leading to some significant questions about how – and how safely – it operates.

The criminal phase of the trial of a Tri-Met driver responsible for what The Oregonian calls “the worst transit tragedy in modern Portland history” has reached a turning point. Earlier this month, Sandi Day was convicted on all six charges she faced stemming from last year’s fatal Portland bus crash.

According to the newspaper, the judge “ordered Day to pay more than $1000 in fines, perform 200 hours of community service and complete a traffic safety course.” She also faces the loss of her commercial driving license and possible additional fines if she does not “comply with her sentence within a year.” As I noted in a post early last summer, the accident has already led to changes in Tri-Met’s operating procedures.

Day drove her bus into five people last April as she executed an illegal left turn. According to The Oregonian, police testified at her trial that she kept driving for 2.5 seconds after hitting five pedestrians in a crosswalk at approximately 13 miles per hour. Two of the pedestrians were dragged beneath the bus and died. Three others were injured.

A task force formed earlier this year to address shortcomings at TriMet, Portland’s public transportation authority, has issued a scathing report calling for sweeping changes in the culture of the transportation agency. In particular, the task force wants TriMet to strike the word “accident” from both its dictionary and its mindset.

“The group recommended eliminating the term ‘accident’ from its vocabulary, saying it implies that collisions are unpreventable,” The Oregonian reported. The Task Force was formed after a horrific incident last April in which a bus driver making an illegal left turn hit five people in a Portland crosswalk, killing two of them.

Among other things, the group suggested new incentives for TriMet employees to work toward improving safety performance, greater use of traffic and collision data to determine where Portland’s safety trouble spots are located, the appointment of a senior official charged only with overseeing safety issues and the development of better systems through which to assess driver performance.

As recently as last week officials at TriMet, metro Portland’s transit company, dismissed as impractical suggestions that the city should stop allowing busses to make left-hand turns. Criticism of the practice emerged in the wake of an April Portland fatal bus accident that left two people dead and three others injured after they were struck by a bus turning left through a crosswalk. The bus had a green light at the time, but the pedestrians also had a ‘walk’ signal, according to local media reports.

Since the accident it has emerged that federal safety data indicate that eliminating left turns from bus routes can have a significant effect on safety, as can other measures such as requiring drivers to honk their horns. An article in The Oregonian last week listed several cities in different parts of the country that have taken the study’s recommendations to heart, but noted that Portland is not among them. As recently as a few days ago Portland transit officials dismissed the idea of instituting similar changes here, claiming our city’s street grid makes such measures impractical.

Late last week, however, TriMet reversed itself. On Friday the authority announced that following last month’s Oregon bus injury crash changes are being made to routes 12, 17 and 44. According to an article in The Oregonian, “more operation, training and route changes are expected as part of a sweeping safety review.” The announcement follows the paper’s revelation that TriMet recently settled a Portland personal injury lawsuit with a woman who lost her leg in 2008 when she was struck by a bus making a left turn.

Last month, two people died and three others were injured in a Portland fatal bus accident when they were hit by a Tri-Met bus making a left-hand turn. Now, an investigation by The Oregonian demonstrates that data on the problem of busses and left-turn accidents has existed for some time, and that measures implemented in other cities could prevent Oregon bus accidents like the one that took place in late April.

The newspaper cites a federal study showing “that bus-pedestrian collisions are more than twice as likely to happen during left turns.” It notes that other cities, including Des Moines, Iowa and Cleveland, Ohio, instituted relatively simple procedures following the study’s release in an effort to improve safety. In both cities, for example, bus drivers are forbidden to make left-hand turns and are required to honk their horns before turning right. The article notes that six cities, including Cleveland and Richmond, Virginia, are equipping vehicles with “pedestrian warning systems”. In Richmond, for example, a loud recorded voice announces “Caution: bus turning” whenever the vehicle turns out of an intersection.

The newspaper quotes a Tri-Met spokeswoman, however, saying that a ‘no left turns’ policy for preventing Oregon bus accidents is not feasible in downtown Portland because of the way the city’s streets are laid out. The spokeswoman also dismissed the idea of a policy to require honking as busses turn on the grounds that it would make drivers rely on the horn “instead of their awareness of pedestrians.”

A Portland bus accident late Saturday night left two young women dead and three other people injured – one critically – after the group was struck by a bus. According to The Oregonian, police are still working to reconstruct the details of the Oregon fatal pedestrian vehicle crash. The incident took place in downtown Portland as the group of pedestrians left a local comedy club.

According to the paper, the accident occurred at the intersection of Northwest Broadway and Glisan Street. “The bus was westbound on Glisan as it turned left onto southbound Broadway and struck the westbound pedestrians,” the paper reported. The five victims, including a newlywed couple and a brother and sister, all knew one another and were traveling together. According to police, the bus had a green light at the time of the accident and the pedestrians had a walk signal. The bus was out of service at the time and was not carrying passengers.

The Oregonian quoted police saying that neither speed nor alcohol initially appears to be a factor in the accident.

This week, the US Department of Transportation is hosting the Distracted Driving Summit. During the two-day meeting, attended by senior transportation officials, safety advocates, government officials, academics, and law enforcement representatives, attendees are expected to discuss the dangers that can arise when a motorist is texting while driving or engaged in another distracted driving habit.

Our Portland, Oregon car accident lawyers welcome the good news that lawmakers and safety officials are taking a closer look at distracted driving. About 8,000 auto accidents occur each year due to distracted driving. Distracted driving is any activity that compels a motorist to take his or her eyes off the road, the hands off the wheel, and/or focuses the mind on anything other than driving. Talking on the phone, reading, painting one’s nails, putting on makeup, text messaging, surfing the Web, and Twittering are just some examples.

Each of these harmless activities become dangerous when done while driving. The injuries that result during an Oregon motor vehicle accident can be fatal. Meantime, surviving loved ones are left to cope with the inconsolable loss of a loved one who died because someone was distracted while driving.

To get motorists to stop engaging in distracted driving, AAA and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are calling on drivers to put away any distractions for just one week. Heads Up Driving Week will take place from October 5 – 11. The recommendation is “Try it for a week – do it for life.”

More Facts about Distracted Driving:
• Driver inattention is a factor in over 1 million North American auto accidents each year.
• Most drivers spend more than half of their driving time engaging in a secondary task.
• Using a cell phone while driving increases a driver’s crash risk by up to 4 times.
• Even though the AAA Foundation’s 2009 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 95% of motorists now know that texting while driving is not acceptable, 18% still text or email while driving.

Throughout the state, Portland, Oregon injury attorney Matt Kaplan represents clients who were injured in car accidents, truck crashes, bicycle collisions, pedestrian accidents, and motorcycle crashes involving negligent drivers.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Agenda for Distracted Driving Summit, Department of Transportation, September 16, 2009
The Facts about Distracted Driving – Know the Dangers/Avoid the Risks, AAA
Related Web Resources:
Hands Free, Text Messaging, and Cell Phone Driving Laws

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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