Riding the bus is a cost effective and convenient way for many people to get around Honolulu, and often riding the bus is lauded as a safe travel option. Overall, injuries from bus crashes across the United state has shown a steady decline between 1988 and 2008, still in 2008, 24,000 people were hurt or killed in bus related crashes. But not all bus related personal injuries involve crashes. There are also a number of ways riders and drivers can be injured on a bus when no notable accident has taken place. This raises the question as to whether Honolulu bus accidents are actually occurring more often than statistics suggest.
Hawaii Bus Licensing Requirements
In order to drive a bus in Hawaii, a person must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Applications for a CDL are not accepted from those who are under 21 years of age. A CDL application needs to be filled out, and you must take or supply a photo, your current driver’s license, social security card , and birth certificate. A medical report from the the Department of transportation is also necessary and drivers must also pass a written examination. Meeting these requirements will qualify you for a CDL permit which is good for 6 months and allows the driver to drive commercial vehicles under the supervision of a driver who holds a CDL license. A road test is then administered when the driver feels he is prepared.
To drive a commercial bus, a driver must obtain a “P” endorsement which will allow him to carry passengers. Those who want to drive school busses also need an “S” endorsement in order to driver school children. School bus drivers must also pass a background check conducted by the police.
School Bus Dangers
One of the main concerns regarding school busses is that the majority of them are not equipped with seat belts despite the overwhelming evidence that wearing seat belts save lives. In fact there have been few safety developments, and the school bus is basically the same as it was in 1977. School busses can also be very noisy and create an environment where the driver could be easily distracted. There are also times when the students may exhibit threatening behaviors, and without adequate security, the bus driver is often forced into becoming a disciplinarian taking his attention away from the road.
These obstacles play a large role in the injuries of over 10,000 kids who are involved in school bus accidents each year. There is also plenty of danger outside of the bus, as nearly three quarters of fatalities happen to people who are in vehicles other than the bus, and about 1/5 are pedestrians.
Commercial Bus Dangers
Commercial busses are primarily either charter busses used for tourism purposes or part of the public transportation system. In Honolulu, the most common concerns surrounding the Oahu Transit Services (OTS) which most refer to as “the bus.” One major concern with the bus is that a large portion of riders are senior citizens who can easily be injured because of the nature of how the bus moves throughout the city.
Driver actions such as making sharp turns, going over curbs, abrupt braking or accelerating, moving before passengers are safely seated, or closing doors on passengers that have not completely made it on or off the bus all contribute to the sort of turbulence that results in falls. These dangers are most prevalent in seniors, but can potentially happen to anyone riding the bus.
What to do about a bus injury
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a bus accident, it is important to report the incident right away and get the names of witnesses who will verify what occurred in the accident. Getting any medical treatment is obviously a priority. Victims inside of a bus may be knocked over from the force of a bus turning, especially if the bus runs out of available seating and they must stand. Because of the large size and rectangular shape of a bus, rollovers are more common which can lead to bumps, bruises, broken bones or internal bleeding. Those who hit their head in an accident may suffer a concussion or even a brain injury.
But contacting a personal injury attorney who has experience with bus accidents is also important. The bus driver will likely have the support of the company they work for, whether it is the school district or OTS. Counterbalancing with the support of your own attorney can assure that there are no gaps in the care of compensation you or your loved one receives whether you are filing a personal injury case or a wrongful death case.
Many expect large bus companies that are supported by the government to have good insurance policies that will properly attend to any injuries without much outside encouragement, but this is not necessarily the case. The best way to get the care and compensation you need is to contact a bus injury lawyer who has your best interest at heart.