In our blog, we post stories on legal issues that are receiving a lot of current attention in the media and in legal circles.
If you want to start a debate, ask folks how they feel about seat belts on Texas school buses. People tend to fall into two passionate camps: either they think seat belts are absolutely necessary on buses, or they think it is a terrible idea (this latter groups includes bus manufacturing companies, by the way!)
Well the idea of requiring seat belts on school buses is back is on Texas lawmakers’ minds after a terrible tragedy in Missouri recently. Two school buses collided with a tractor trailer and a pickup truck, leading to the death of two young bus occupants.
As a result of the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has decided to examine whether or not seat belts would have saved the lives of the two young people who were killed. At the same time, they note that there were contributing factors in the case, and if those factors were addressed going forward crashes could be avoided altogether.
In this situation, according to the state police report one bus was following the other. The lead bus driver was “inattentive”, probably engaging in distracted driving behavior. The bus driver traveling behind the lead bus was following too closely, which didn’t leave enough room to brake or perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a crash.
Safety officials maintain that buses – especially the larger motorcoach style buses with big, plush seats – are designed to keep bus occupants safe in the event of a crash. According to an NTSB official, "It's safer than traveling on foot. It's safer than traveling on a bicycle or in a parent's vehicle."
We can’t help but wonder how the parents of the individuals killed in this crash feel about the issue of safety belts. We may see more changes to motorcoach / bus safety rules after the NTSB completes its review.
After the late-night death of a Houston tow truck driver, some tow truck operators are speaking out about a rule that they claim puts lives at risk.
The accident happened around 1am, when two tow-truck drivers were rushing to a crash scene in northeast Houston. The first tow truck, a Chevrolet owned by Zone 3 Collision, was headed east on Jensen when a Nissan 240SX changed lanes in front of the truck, causing it to sideswipe the car.
The accident caused the tow truck to veer off of the road and strike first a light pole then a sign pole. As a result the truck flipped over, killing the driver. The driver’s name has not been released, but those who knew him say he had been driving tow trucks for over 20 years. The incident is still under investigation, and no charges have yet been filed.
Why were the two tow trucks racing? According to some, Houston guidelines state that only the first two wreckers on the scene of an accident will be paid. This means that tow truck drivers have an incentive to race to the scene of an accident as fast as possible, to beat their competitors and get paid.
This intense competition for business has led some to believe that the city guidelines should be loosened, allowing for more wreckers to be compensated for arriving at a freeway accident. However, this may not be realistic given current economic conditions.
There has to be a better answer. Whatever city leaders decide, something should be done so that tow truck drivers are not rewarded for putting their lives – and the lives of innocent motorists – at risk.
A bus company is in hot water with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (MFCSA) for violating several federal safety regulations. The company, Tierra Santa Incorporated, a bus company owned by Mr. Cayetano Martinez, is facing $72,760 in fines due to findings from a fatal accident investigation.
As the owner, Mr. Martinez has been charged with 78 violations of 13 safety regulations. Not only did Martinez actively try to avoid complying with federal rules, but he also used four different company names to evade previous orders from the FMCSA.
What kind of violations is Mr. Martinez facing because of his bus company operations? Here are just a few – and they are doozies:
Driver requirement violations
What prompted these charges? In March of this year six bus passengers were killed and another 16 were injured when one of Tierra Santa’s buses crashed in Phoenix, AZ.
The charges from the FMCSA are very serious, and indicate just how far unscrupulous bus owners and operators are willing to go to get around the very rules put in place to keep you and me safe. If you or someone you love is hurt in a bus crash, don’t let a shady bus company get away with their negligence – get the help of a BOARD CERTIFIED Texas bus crash lawyer.