Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on September 7th, 2012,
by Zane Cagle

Illinois Bus Crash Investigation Prompts Tire Warning from FMCSA

Posted on September 7th, 2012 by Zane Cagle

Photographer: Sid Hastings, for the Chicago Tribune

Photographer: Sid Hastings, for the Chicago Tribune

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a bulletin cautioning motor coach companies in the wake of several high speed crashes according to the Chicago Tribune.  The bulletin stated that bus companies need to have procedures in place to monitor the loading of their vehicles and to make sure they are not driving on damaged or worn tires.

The high speed  bus crash many of us are most familiar with is the recent double decker bus crash in Litchfield, Illinois on Interstate 55. One passenger was killed and many others seriously injured after a tire blowout caused the bus to veer out of control and to crash into a cement support pillar.

Another recent accident involved a double decker bus on Interstate Highway 85 near Lavonia, Georgia. According to reports, no one was injured in that crash.  In both crashes, the buses were heavily loaded and operating on very hot days. Heat and heavy loads are two of the biggest factors that cause tire blowouts according to authorities.

According to authorities investigating the bus crashes, they said, “Under specific circumstances motorcoaches utilizing the double-deck design may be susceptible to exceeding the tire weight limit when loaded with passengers and luggage at full capacity”. 

According to a motor coach agency, “A tire on a motor coach loaded beyond its weight rating and operated at highway speeds for a significant period of time is more likely to overheat and fail, potentially placing the safety of passengers and other motorists at risk”. 

The double decker motor coach company that operated the double decker bus involved  in the Litchfield, Illinois accident is a low-cost  service that provides curbside services. They do not operate bus stations equipped with scales. They load passengers and their baggage on a first-come first-served basis.

The bulletin went on to recommend that bus companies and operators should reduce passenger and cargo loads, seat passengers evenly throughout the bus and increase the tire pressure when appropriate to be certain that the tires remain within the allowable tire weight rating and state vehicle weight limits.  The weight limit for a double decker bus is 80,000 pounds. This weight limit is the same for other interstate passenger buses.

Some double decker buses have a three-axle configuration that allows a lower gross vehicle weight, between 53,000 and 61,000 pounds, according to officials.

Federal officials indicated they were working with the state to increase enforcement of safety regulations in connection with the inter-city bus industry. They also indicated that, “Bus companies that violate tire-loading restrictions may be declared an “imminent hazard” and immediately placed out of service”.

Our sympathy goes out to the victims of the Litchfield, Illinois crash.  I will be exceeding interested to hear all of the results from the bus crash accident investigation.  It will be important to find out what safety measures were taken and how they can be improved.   If you or a loved one was injured in the Litchfield double decker bus crash, you will want to know the results of the investigation as well.  At The Cagle Law Firm, we work with investigators and highway accident reconstructionist daily.  We understand the laws and regulations that impact commercial travel.  Accidents happen. But, if an accident occurs that could have been avoided with some basic safety procedures, the accident turns into a tragedy.  Avoidable accidents are more than accidents, they are a waste.

When accidents occur following a negligent behavior or decision and you have been injured as a result, you are entitled to compensation.  It’s not just a good idea, compensation is just fair. If you have been seriously injured, you may never be “whole” again as insurance language reads.  It is conceivable that due to your injuries, you may have a disfigurement, limp or pain for the rest of your life.  This is a difficult situation to face and often you do not know the full extent of your injuries until some time later.  If you have been injured, you should not sign any releases or accept any money from any insurance company for a minimum of 60 days.  Tragically, I speak with people every day that received a settlement and signed a release and six months later realize the settlement would not begin to cover their medical bills let alone lost wages.  Take your time to make a decision and gather as much information as you can before deciding.  Talk to a personal injury attorney—–talk to several!

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus crash, it is smart to obtain as much information as possible.  If a negligent decision or action was taken that caused your injury, then you definitely need a personal injury attorney. At the very least, you should take advantage of free consultations that personal injury attorneys provide. At The Cagle Law Firm, I visit with people daily that have been in some type of automobile accident.

Not everyone involved in an accident needs an attorney. Two main factors determine whether you need an attorney—your injuries and circumstances.  The seriously injured need legal representation, period.  Also, circumstances vary depending on what caused your accident and whether or not there is insurance.  Sorting through the liability after a commercial accident can be confusing and difficult for all.  If you have been seriously injured,  Zane T. Cagle at (314) 276-1681. Get the information and legal advice you need to make the best decision for you and your family is critical following an accident.