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Inaccurate Federal Estimates of Bus Accident Data Indicate Higher Numbers of Wrongful Deaths

An investigation by USA Today indicates that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may have provided inaccurate information about bus accident fatality data between 1995 and 2009.This could have caused a misconception that buses on our highways are safer, and that fewer people are dying in bus accidents.Personal injury lawyers handling bus accidents know that is not true at all.

The USA Today Investigation focused on bus accident deaths between 1995 and 2009, and found more than a few accident fatalities that went missing from the federal data.The investigation found that overall, at least 42 deaths went missing from the official federal data.The investigation also found that since 2003, at least 32 bus accident deaths were not included in the final federal data.

In addition, there were 42 fatalities that occurred on midsize buses which were not accounted in the federal data either, because these buses are not included in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s definition of a motor coach.

This is not just a slight oversight on the part of the federal administration.These are glaring errors that have emboldened the bus industry to claim that buses in the United States are much safer now than they have ever been.During recent congressional hearings, the bus industry touted the safety record of its buses, citing decreasing accident fatalities.As the USA Today investigation indicates, the fatalities have probably not declined that much.Dozens of fatalities are missing from federal estimates which means that the actual toll is much higher.

As Atlanta accident lawyers know, bus safety is a serious issue in Atlanta. Memories of the Bluffton University bus accident of 2007 are still fresh in our minds.Five members of the Bluffton University baseball team were killed in that accident. The bus driver and his wife also died.

There are other reasons why we need to be concerned about the missing bus accident fatality numbers in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.There have been a number of serious fatal bus accidents in the first few months of 2011 alone, and these have already killed 25 people.

Some of these accidents have been devastating in their impact.In May, 14 people were killed when the bus they were traveling in flipped over and crashed into a signpost in New York.The impact of the accident severed the vehicle into two, and killed most of the victims instantly.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief has been concerned enough about the increasing numbers of accidents to call for additional funding for her agency in order to step up impromptu safety inspections and checks.Anne Ferro, the chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spoke to Congress last month, asking for additional funding to conduct surprise checks, as well as to conduct annual inspections of every long-distance bus.She also wants to increase fines for safety violations.The bus industry has been able to resist these measures, touting its “safety record” to support its arguments. See, USA Today article on bus safety