When is it safe to pass a school bus in Ohio?

Being stuck behind a school bus while rushing to work can be frustrating, but school bus safety is more important than shaving a few minutes off your commute time.

From 2007 to 2016, there were 1,282 people of all ages killed in school transportation-related crashes—an average of 128 fatalities per year. Bus drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers on the road, all must obey bus safety rules. In Ohio, drivers must stop at least 10 feet away from a stopped school bus to allow passengers to safely enter or exit the bus. Continue reading “When is it safe to pass a school bus in Ohio?”

New Federal Seat Belt Rule for Buses

Rules requiring seat belts on buses were first proposed in 1968, following a deadly crash that claimed the lives of 19 people. 45 years later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally issued a federal rule mandating seat belts on new motorcoaches and other large buses.

The new rule, while a step in the right direction, can hardly be viewed as a true win for consumers. New tour buses and buses that provide service between cities must be equipped with seat belts starting in late 2016. However, existing buses will not be retrofitted – leaving millions of passengers without a seat belt each year.

The motorcoach industry opposes retrofitting; arguing buses not designed for seat belts may not be strong enough to withstand the repeated pulling of straps. They also claim it would be cost-prohibitive, placing estimates at $35,000 per bus. Since many motorcoaches are on the road for about 20 to 25 years, it could be decades before all passengers are protected. And, unfortunately, school buses and city transit buses are exempt.

Long Road

It’s been a contentious debate. On one side, safety advocates joined with crash victims and their families in favor of more regulations, which were recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Opposing these regulatory changes were industry groups, such as the American Bus Association, commercial bus companies, and other lobbyists.

Unfortunately, the NTSB can only pass along its recommendations to others within the Department of Transportation because it lacks the authority to impose rules. Another federal agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has that power but has taken an excruciatingly slow approach over the decades.

Things reached a tipping point on March 2, 2007, when a charter bus carrying 33 baseball players and coaches from Bluffton University plunged off a highway ramp. Of the 36 people on board, seven were killed.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a bill co-sponsored with former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas in 2007, again in 2009 and finally in 2011. While Brown’s Tour Bus Safety bill became law on July 6, 2012, it has not yet been fully implemented. Entitled the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, it is based on NTSB recommendations, some of which were first proposed in 1968.

According to the NHSB, an average of 21 people in large buses are killed each year in crashes, and nearly 8,000 others are injured annually. Seat belts could reduce fatalities and moderate-to-severe injuries by nearly half. About half of all motorcoach fatalities are the result of rollovers, and about 70 percent of those killed in rollover accidents were ejected from the bus.

Brown said Seat belts are “a common-sense safety measure that is long overdue.” He urged the NHTSA to move forward on two other safety measures that have been sought nearly as long seat belts — windows that prevent passengers from being ejected from buses in rollover crashes, and stronger roofs that aren’t crushed in such crashes.



Seat belts on commercial buses delayed 45 years” by Joan Lowy, USA Today/AP, November 17, 2013

Deadly crash of bus carrying Bluffton University baseball team behind new rule on seat belts” by Allison Grant, The Plain Dealer, November 20, 2013

Gov’t to Require Seat Belts on Large Buses” by Joan Lowy, ABC News/AP, November 20, 2013.

Dozens injured in Ohio Bus Accident

A passenger bus crashed early this morning, just north of Cincinnati. The driver may have fallen asleep.

The Greyhound bus was carrying 51 passengers bound for Detroit when it careened off I-75 around 4:00 a.m., violently striking a tree and fence. The out-of-control vehicle flipped over twice before it finally came to rest on its side, injuring at least 35 people.

Nearly 100 first-responders arrived on the scene to find passengers suffering from a wide range of injuries. Six people required helicopter transportation to area hospitals and 29 were taken by ambulance. Reports indicate that emergency crews had to extract passengers trapped in the bus, some of whom had a suffered compound fracture – a grisly injury in which a broken bone pierces the skin.

Driver may have fallen asleep

Christopher Lake, a passenger from Michigan, told TV reporters that he saw the driver slumped over and heard a woman scream at the driver, “Wake up! Wake up!”

However, Kim Plaskett, a spokeswoman for Greyhound Lines Inc., assured reporters that the driver had only been on duty for an hour and was “fully rested.”

Interstate commercial passenger bus drivers must follow strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  Once drivers have been behind the wheel for 10 hours, they must rest for 8 hours before they are permitted to drive again. Additionally, there are limits for total weekly hours. Drivers may not exceed 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in an 8 day period.

Commercial drivers must also submit to a medical exam conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Physicians take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam – testing the driver’s vision, hearing, blood pressure, and screening for drugs and alcohol. The results are recorded in a medical report. The DOT exam is valid for 24 months.

Bus accidents are a serious problem

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, “In the last two years, Greyhound buses have been involved in 102 crashes, three involving fatalities and 57 involving injuries. Nationally, in 2011 alone, there were 54,000 accidents involving buses, with 283 fatalities and 2,400 injuries.”

Don’t wait

In any motor vehicle crash, the period immediately after the crash is critical. Prompt investigations can capture accurate explanations of what happened and prevent evidence from being lost or destroyed. You can trust our experienced attorneys and comprehensive team of doctors, nurses, and accident reconstruction experts to investigate your claim.

For information about how our Ohio lawyers can help you obtain compensation for your damages after an accident, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online.



“34 injured in Liberty Twp. bus crash” by the Cincinnati Enquirer, September 14, 2013. (Updated)

“Greyhound Bus Overturns In Southwest Ohio; 34 Injured” by Lisa Cornwell, Huffington Post, September 14, 2013.

Ohio bus crash: Did driver fall asleep?Christian Science Monitor/AP, September 14, 2013.