Bronx Bus Crash
Friday, December 07, 2012
The driver behind the wheel during of the fatal Bronx bus crash was found not guilty on all counts of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide on Friday.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
By Jim O'Grady
Almost everything seems to have gone wrong in last year's fatal Bronx bus ride from a Connecticut casino that left 15 dead. That's according to the National Transportation Safety Board's final report on the March 11, 2011 crash. The gruesome accident brought on a cascade of criticism about safety in the rapidly growing inter-city bus industry, proposals for federal and state legislation, and tough Department of Transportation crackdowns.
The driver had seven license violations and was suspended eight times in the six years prior to the crash -- but lied to his employers about that. In the three days before he drove off I-95, he got almost no sleep.
Truckers saw him traversing rumble strips, and watched as the driver made no correction and drifted off the road before hitting a guard rail. And the guard rail was "not designed to re-direct a heavy vehicle such as a motor coach," investigators said.
Investigators also ran simulations that showed seat belts, which were not available to the passengers, could've saved lives and prevented injuries.
The NTSB also released an animation showing the bus careening along the guard rail before crashing into a sign and tipping over the edge.
NTSB investigator Tom Barth said the passengers returning from the casino trip "had planned to gamble, but not with their lives."
We'll link to the report as soon as it's posted.
Monday, October 31, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) So-called "Chinatown buses" that pick up and drop off passengers at the curb have more fatal accidents and fail more inspections than traditional larger carriers who operate out of bus terminals, according to a report by the the National Transportation Safety Board. Curbside carriers with fleets of ten or fewer buses that have been in business less than ten years tend to have the worst safety records of all.
The report, which begins by saying long distance bus travel remains generally safe, was prompted by an accident in the Bronx in March that killed 15 passengers.
A bus operated by World Wide Travel was returning to New York City from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut when it rolled on its side and hit the support pole for a highway sign. Investigators say driver Ophadell Williams was fatigued when the accident occurred at 5:37 a.m.
Williams, awaiting trial, has been charged with fifteen counts of manslaughter.
The report says driver fatigue is a major issue for "Chinatown" buses. It adds that buses leaving from a curb at various street locations are harder to track down and inspect than buses that use terminals. The report also says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which performs the inspections, has been overwhelmed by the rapid growth of the long distance bus industry, and that there are 1.15 inspectors for every 1,000 bus companies.
And there's a problem, the report says, with bus companies that inspectors put out of service for violations but which then "reincarnate" under a different name while selling tickets through the same online broker they used before.
"The NTSB report is a wake-up call that we need a more rigorous regulatory regime and it provides a blueprint for how to fill the gaps," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer at a press briefing (video) held in New York this morning to about the report.
The Chinatown bus industry has grown rapidly over the last several years, even as it has been plagued by safety issues. "The fatal accident rate for curbside carriers from January 2005 to March 2011 was seven times that of conventional carriers," the report says.