In early August of 2008, a horrific bus accident that killed 17 people, and injured dozens more, occurred in the city of Sherman, Texas. The aftermath of the crash has left many citizens of Sherman, as well as family members of the crash victims, scarred and emotionally traumatized. However, the violations that were present in the incident have shed light on multiple safety issues in buses. For a look back at the accident and the lasting impact it’s had, read on:
A Brief Recap of the Crash
The crash of the bus happened on August 8th, 2008 at 12:45 AM. The bus was a privately charted bus that was carrying 55 people, most of them members of the Vietnamese Martyrs’ Church, Our Lady of Lavang, and Our Lady of Lourdes from Houston, Texas. When the driver lost control of the bus, it ran off of U.S. Route 75 and skidded along a guardrail, where it then slid off the highway entirely while on its side. Twelve people were immediately confirmed dead at the scene, and five others died from related injuries in the following hours and days. The bus was not licensed to operate, was not equipped with seatbelts, and it is believed that a defective tire contributed to the crash.
The Impact of the Crash on Victims
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that the cause of the crash was the puncturing of a retreaded tire, according to a 2011 article published in the Dallas News. While the NHTSA stated that the retreading itself wasn’t the cause, the tire was fixed to the front axle illegally. As a result, 11 individuals and companies involved in the crash—including those responsible for the illegal fastening of the tire and the retreaded tire—were sued by families of the victims in 2011. Those alleged liable parties agreed to out of court settlements. Motor Coach Industries, the manufacturer of the bus, was also one of the 11 companies that families of the victims pursued, and were successful, to collect damages from.
The fact that there were no seatbelts in the bus has raised concerns about the safety of buses in the future, and has encouraged many bus companies to install seatbelts. Seatbelts are crucial to saving lives in the event of a collision, particularly a rollover accident, and are relatively inexpensive to install. While no mandatory seatbelt laws are currently in place for buses, the bus accident has caused many in the state to demand the installation of both seatbelts and safety glass in highway coaches and buses, with hopes that a tragedy such as this can be prevented in the future.