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California bus accident prompts federal safety investigation

A recent catastrophic accident in Red Bluff, California could lead federal regulators to reconsider safety rules that apply to tour buses and other commercial carriers. The accident, which left 10 dead and others injured, occurred when a FedEx truck crossed over an interstate median and crashed into a sedan and a tour bus full of 44 high school students.

In the wake of the accident, many of the students were able to escape through safety windows just in time to avoid an explosion. Investigators apparently still don't have the story straight as to exactly what happened. According to the driver of the sedan, the FedEx truck was on fire prior to the crash, but federal investigators found no evidence to support that assertion. 

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating high accidents and making recommendations based upon findings, is conducting an investigation of the incident and will be issuing a report within a month. Though it isn't clear what exactly will appear in the report, some have suggested that the report will address safety belts for motor coaches, fire-suppression systems, and escape window maintenance. At present, there is no rule mandating seat belts in commercial buses. Being that a number of students in the crash died when they were ejected from the vehicle, it is possible that the NHTSA will address the issue, which could lead to new rules. We'll have to wait and see.

Those who are harmed by a negligent bus driver, truck driver or other commercial vehicle operator deserve to be compensated for their injuries and losses. Working with an experienced attorney is important in such cases, particularly cases where violation of federal regulations is involved. Doing so will ensure the best possible recovery.

Source: Honolulu Star-Adviser, "Feds revisit safety rules after Calif. bus crash," Fenit Nirappil, April 14, 2014. 

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