Friday, 21 May 2010 22:18

School Bus Wrecks

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Every day parents put their kids on school buses assuming they are safe and in good mechanical condition. On any given day, approximately 47 million elementary and secondary school children board a yellow school bus, yet remarkably few of these buses have seat belts, and an alarming percentage have either not been properly inspected or failed inspection altogether.

While responsible parents would never put their children in an automobile with bad brakes or allow them to ride in an automobile without the use of a seatbelt, the ubiquitous yellow school bus is a vehicular dinosaur.

Though most states have proposed legislation mandating seat belts on school buses, only a handful actually have them. Even fewer mandate their usage. Studies show that students riding on belt-equipped buses roam the aisles less frequently and are more likely to remain seated. Additionally, bus drivers report being less distracted because they have to spend less time handling student misbehavior and can concentrate more on driving safely.

Seat belt opponents argue that school buses already are the safest form of transportation on the road and that equipping buses with seat belts would reduce overall capacity. Private contractors, as well as many school officials who operate a third of the nation’s school buses, have fought the installation of lap belts on school buses for more than 30 years. For the most part, federal and state governments have gone along with them.

Parents should also be reassured that when they put their children on a school bus each day that the vehicle is safe and has passed a recent inspection. Yet surprise inspections throughout the country have shown that nearly 80 percent of these buses fail inspection—over half of which fail for mechanical reasons.

In a recent survey of school bus mechanics, the braking systems were the most common concern expressed. While the effect of wear and tear may seem obvious, many brake problems are concealed. The brakes may appear to be functional when actually little force is being applied to the brake drums. Ideally, all wheels should be doing an equal amount of work, applying and releasing at the same time. Something as simple as maintaining air pressure in the braking system, can prevent a catastrophic failure. Misalignment or brakes that are out of balance are unseen problems, but certainly can be felt by the driver. It is not enough to repair a problem once a defect is found because of the inspection process; inspection programs must be thorough and preventative in nature, and drivers need to know how to recognize a problem before it becomes an incident. In the event of a serious injury, defective brake issues should be thoroughly explored by experts who have full access to the brakes before changes are made.

School buses should be designed to ensure the safety of the millions of children they transport annually and maintenance and proper inspection of these buses should be the rule and not the exception. Any school bus wreck that transpires is not an accident if the problems that cause them are well known. The National Coalition for School Bus Safety found that some operators are making money by running unsafe buses by waiting for state inspectors to identify defects rather than doing preventative maintenance because it would mean removing the bus off the road for a period of time.

Parents have a right to expect that buses are designed and maintained to minimize student injuries. If a member of your family or someone you know has been injured as a result of a collision involving a school bus, call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 or send us an e-mail at ggreen@gGreen.com.

Friday, 21 May 2010 22:10

Car Accidents

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Motor vehicle collisions are road traffic incidents which usually involve at least one road vehicle colliding with another vehicle, another road user, a stationary roadside object or tire failure, and which usually result in injury or property damage. On average, there are more than 6 million car collisions on the roads of the US, annually.

More than 3 million people are injured due to motor vehicle collisions, with more than 2 million of these injuries being permanent. There are in excess of 40,000 deaths due to car wrecks every year. About 40% of fatalities occur because of a drunken driver. About 30% of fatalities can be attributed to driving above the speed limits and 33% and above, because of reckless driving that causes the car to go off the road and result in a wreck.

The majority of motor vehicle collisions could be avoided if only the vehicle’s operators drove more responsibly. Unfortunately, drivers can be easily distracted by so many things such as conversations with passengers, playing with the radio, eating or drinking, and talking on cellular phones. The collisions that ensue are not accidents if the drivers were responsible for their vehicles. Even if you are a responsible driver and do not give in to distractions, that does not guarantee that you cannot be involved in a collision due to the fault of another careless driver. Knowing how to drive is not enough anymore with so many vehicles on the road. However, knowing how to drive defensively and being cautious of other drivers is one way to improve one’s chances of avoiding a motor vehicle collision.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision, have questions or need additional information please call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 or send us an e-mail at ggreen@gGreen.com.

Friday, 21 May 2010 22:07

Railroad Crossing Litigation

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

A train kills someone every one hundred minutes in America. There are more than 300,000 public rail grade crossings in the United States:

  • More than 80% do not have lights and gates
  • One third have no active warning device of any kind
  • For many of these crossings, warning time is often minimal to nonexistent and pedestrians and motorists are made unknowingly susceptible to the liability of an approaching train
  • Occupants of a motor vehicle that collides with a train are 40 times more likely to die, than if they had collided with another motor vehicle
  • More than half of all railroad mishaps occur at these unprotected crossings

With all this information it is hard to consider any damage sustained by unsafe railroad crossings as simple accidents. For those lucky enough to survive, the injuries sustained are typically life threatening, requiring extensive surgical intervention, many necessitating amputation. The injuries resulting from a child playing on or around railroad tracks or a motor vehicle’s collision with a train only emphasizes the need for limited access to railway areas and increased warning devices.

Trains cannot stop in time to prevent a collision from occurring. While an automobile traveling 50 miles per hour requires approximately 50 feet to come to a stop, it takes a train over a mile and a half, more than 150 times longer, to stop traveling from the same rate of speed. While grade crossing warning signals have become more high tech and rail traffic has steadily increased, the railroads responsible for maintenance have continuously reduced their workforce, leaving the public at increased risk.

At Law Offices of Gary Green, we have experience and familiarity with railroad crossing litigation. Liability can be established against the railroad by proving vegetation was allowed to grow too high in the right of way, blocking the view of both the engineer and the driver of the vehicle. Often, engineers do not blow the required whistle sequence because the whistle is so deafeningly loud in the cab of the train. However, the train’s black box can be retrieved which will show use of the whistle and speed of the train prior to impact. Communications between the train crew and dispatchers are recorded. These recordings, through contentious discovery, can be key in establishing liability against the railroad.

If you or a loved one has had an injury involving railroad crossings or a train collision, or if you have questions or need additional information, call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 or send us an e-mail at ggreen@gGreen.com.