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Seattle Bus Accident Causes

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on June 20, 2016

A recent study by Inrix, a Washington-based traffic data company, highlighted the current traffic problems in the Seattle area. These include some of the following facts:

• The population of Seattle’s metropolitan area now has exceeded 3.8 million and will continue to increase. As a result, traffic congestion that plagues the area is likely to worsen. Estimates put the city population in 2040 at nearly 5 million.
• Currently the city is listed as #6 among US cities as it relates to traffic problems and congestion. (recently passing Boston, MA)
• They estimate that the average Seattle commuter wastes 66 hours per year in traffic delays.

In efforts to combat the traffic problems in the region, significant resources have been assigned to implement and expand the public transportation system. Modes of transportation currently include: the Sounder train, a growing light-rail system, a network of Express buses, Metro buses, water taxis, ferries, streetcars and more. In addition, there are hundreds of buses on the roads such as school buses, guided (tour) buses, and hotel & airport buses.

What are the common reasons for accidents and injuries involving buses?

• Driver negligence is a common cause for bus-related accidents. This applies to both the bus operators and those driving passenger cars in proximity to buses. Most commonly, the negligence involves failing to yield to a school bus- stop sign and operators making illegal turns.
• The frequency in which buses stop correlates with their probability of being involved in an accident which can lead to injuries, and in some cases—a fatality. Often bus operators will develop habits of stopping much too abruptly.
• A bus “rollover,” where the vehicle overturns, is an event with devastating incidences of injury and death. Although rollovers are among one of the least common occurrences, they result in a significantly disproportionate high fatality rate.
• Poor weather conditions
• Mechanical or maintenance issues such as air brake failure or tire blow outs. There have been cases where the agency or organization responsible for inspections has failed to adhere to the service intervals outlined by the manufacturer. Additionally, Federal law prohibits usage of “recapped” or “retreaded” tires on the front axle of a bus, and there has been significant debate on usage of such relating to safety vs minimizing replacement costs.
• Driver’s experiencing significant distractions and driver fatigue have increasing been cited as factors.

The WA State Department of Transportation estimates that 1,100 collisions involving buses occur annually statewide. In their 2013 report, the distribution of injury and outcome was as follows:

• Fatality: under 1%
• Serious Injury: = 1%
• Minor Injury: 27%
• Property Damage Only: 71%

The legal team at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. has proudly represented injury victims in The Emerald City region now for over four decades. Our firm was the recipient of the prestigious Litigator Award, going “back to back” in both 2014 and 2015. Call a Seattle bus accident lawyer at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. at (888) 228-3860 today for a free consultation to discuss your case and put us to work for you.  

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