How Common Are Safety Violations Involving Charter and Discount Bus Companies?
If you live in Philadelphia, New York, or other major cities on the East Coast, you’re probably familiar with discount bus services like Yep Tour and Dahlia Group. These services are popular among tourists, gamblers, commuters, and others thanks to inexpensive fares on one-way and round trips between some of the country’s largest cities. Unfortunately, these low bus fares can come at a high cost in the form of accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. The recent tragedy in Queens, which killed three people and injured at least 16 others, has prompted many to wonder: just how common are accidents among charter bus companies, and what are some of the most common violations that cause or contribute to their occurrence? The Philadelphia bus accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm examine federal statistics to uncover the answers.
Fatal Crash in Queens Highlights Dangers of Budget Charter Bus Companies
Tragedy struck New York last week when a private charter bus operated by Dahlia Group collided with an MTA Q20 bus at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Main Street in Flushing, Queens at approximately 6:15 A.M. on Monday, September 18. The accident caused the deaths of Dahlia driver D. Mong, 49, MTA bus passenger Gregory Liljefors, 55, and pedestrian Henry Wdowiak, 68, who died at the accident scene after being caught under the wreckage.
The accident has generated controversy due to the recent driving history of D. Mong, a former MTA driver who lost his license in 2015 after causing an accident by driving while intoxicated, leaving many to question how he was able to obtain a new license so quickly. Yet his is not the only record under scrutiny. Mong’s employer, Dahlia Group, has also attracted scrutiny for its own record, which includes two fatal accidents during the past 14 years.
Nor is Dahlia Group the only charter bus company to draw attention. Records indicate that competitor Yep Tour, which previously sued New York City after being denied a permit, accumulated a total of 210 safety violations over the past two years: an average of nearly nine safety violations per month, or about two violations per week.
FMCSA Bus Accident Statistics Show Company Safety Records
More detailed statistics about charter bus companies are available through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation (DOT) whose “primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries,” in part by conducting detailed analyses of crash trends and contributing factors in accidents.
According to FMCSA statistics, buses involved in fatal accidents climbed from 236 to 261 from 2014 to 2015, a startling 11% increase. In 2015 alone, approximately 24,000 people were injured in bus accidents, while nearly 300 people were killed. These figures include:
- 99 fatal crashes involving school buses, resulting in 107 fatalities
- 93 fatal crashes involving transit buses, resulting in 106 fatalities
- 33 fatal crashes involving cross-country intercity buses, or “motorcoaches,” resulting in 40 fatalities
- 17 fatal crashes involving “other” types of buses, resulting in 19 fatalities
If a family member was injured or killed in a fatal bus accident, we encourage you to contact our Philadelphia wrongful death attorneys for support and guidance.
In addition to supplying the broad statistics above, FMCSA data also paints a detailed portrait of each company’s safety profile, including company-specific data on driver inspections, vehicle inspections, driver fitness, and “hours of service” (HOS) violations, which occur when drivers exceed shift limits that are in place to prevent drowsy driving accidents. The following statistics on Yep Tour and Dahlia Group are sourced from FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS). The violation summaries presented below are not exhaustive, but rather, highlight some of the most common violations by company. To view complete violation summaries, visit the SMS database and select a company of interest from the dropdown menu.
FMCSA provides the following statistics on Dahlia Group:
- Driver Inspections – 32
- Driver Fitness Violations – 0
- HOS Violations – 3
- Unsafe Driving Violations – 6
- Vehicle Inspections – 7
- Vehicle Maintenance Violations – 1
- Violation Summary (Most Common Violations)
- Speeding 15 or more miles per hour over the speed limit – 2
- Record of Duty Status violations – 2
- Failing to obey traffic control devices – 1
- Improper passing – 1
- Speeding 11 to 14 miles per hour over the speed limit – 1
Other violations included:
- Speeding 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit – 1
- Unlawfully parking and/or leaving the vehicle in the roadway – 1
The following FMCSA statistics relate to Yep Tour:
- Driver Inspections – 186
- Driver Fitness Violations – 5
- HOS Violations – 17
- Unsafe Driving Violations – 30
- Vehicle Inspections – 126
- Vehicle Maintenance Violations – 79
- Violation Summary (Most Common Violations)
- Oil and grease leaks – 26
- Inspection, repair and maintenance of parts and accessories – 19
- Inoperative or defective windshield wipers – 14
- Inoperable lamps – 13
- Speeding 6 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit – 6
Other, less common violations included:
- Speeding 11 to 14 miles per hour over the speed limit – 6
- Speeding 15 or more miles per hour over the speed limit – 5
- Failing to obey traffic control devices – 5
- Following too closely – 3
Philadelphia Bus Accident Lawyers for Injured Passengers, Cyclists, and Pedestrians
If you or someone you love recently suffered a charter bus passenger injury, or was hit by a bus while riding a bicycle or walking, the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to help you recover compensation. With over 34 years of experience, thousands of clients served, and hundreds of millions of dollars recovered, we are proven and effective advocates for the seriously injured and their loved ones. To confidentially discuss a bus accident liability claim in a free consultation, contact our law offices at (215) 709-6940.