A Sunday morning crash involving a tour bus liner on Interstate 5 has many authorities questioning how the accident happened and what part current bus safety standards might have played in the wreck. One person was killed and over 30 others injured when the bus drifted off the highway and landed upside down. 3 people remain in critical condition.
A California Highway Patrol report indicated that Yellow Arrow Bus Liner bound for Washington state and being piloted by Jose Garcilazo of Los Angeles, drifted from its lane along I-5, went down a steep embankment and ended up on its roof, before stopping along aside another roadway. The highway was closed for up to 4 hours after the incident. At the time of the report CHP had no clear idea what caused the wreck, but there are various reports indicating there may have been a problem prior to the wreck itself.
The same bus, and its 67-year old driver, slammed into a Denny’s restaurant in Red Bluff that same morning. This raised questions of driver fatigue and poor safety management that has dogged Yellow Arrow Bus Liner since it’s opening over a year ago.
Duane DeBruyne, a representative for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stated that they will be actively investigating the Othello, WA based company. “Because of this crash we will immediately be starting a review of the company’s drivers and equipment.” Federal inspectors hit the company with another fine recently for piloting one of their buses with an “Out Of Service” sign illuminated. Authorities indicated that Yellow Arrow has yet to receive a safety rating because the company is barely a year old.
However, the Director of Research at Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Dr. Shaun Kildare believes the wreck and Yellow Arrow Lines lack of overall inspection is indicative of a much bigger issue facing the tour bus industry. “There aren’t a lot of inspections going on for these companies,” Kildare said. “We want to see more inspections. We need to see more inspections.”
However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration retains approximately 13,000 agents that are tasked with reviewing a total of 300,000 carriers nationwide.
When large tour bus liners are involved in a wreck there are often substantial insurance policies taken into consideration. Yellow Arrow currently has a $5 million covering its numerous buses and 6 on staff drivers. Depending on how the company chooses to tackle the issue, most if not all of the passengers on board have extensive legal options – as do the family members of the man who died in the collision.
It is important to remember that in such circumstances, insurance companies representing the at-fault party do not have the victim or their family’s best interest in mind. Both they and the bus company are in the business of making money – no repairing lives. They will actively work against these people. Only a qualified personal injury attorney, with experience dealing with large motor coach companies, should facilitate the negotiation.