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When discount bus carriers cut too many corners on safety, they put people's lives at risk. Double-decked Megabuses, in particular, have been involved in at least five fatal accidents in the last two years.

This article will discuss the safety issues posed by curbside bus companies, particularly the operator of Megabuses. More needs to be done to prevent bus accidents caused by these companies. Such accidents do not only injure bus passengers; they put pedestrians and other motorists at risk as well.

Megabus Crashes in Illinois

Megabuses are double-deck buses manufactured by Van Hool, a bus-building company based in Belgium. Compared to single-deck buses, they have a higher center of gravity. In the U.S., the buses are operated by a parent company called Coach USA.

The buses have been involved in at least six fatal accidents in the last two years. Tire blowouts were a factor in at least three of these, including one in Illinois on August 2. A Megabus bound from Chicago to St. Louis blew a tire on Interstate 55 near Litchfield, Illinois, and collided with a concrete bridge pillar. One passenger was killed and dozens more were injured.

On August 7, less than a week after the Litchfield accident, a Megabus struck and killed a pedestrian on a downtown Chicago street. The victim was a 76-year-old woman who was in the crosswalk. Police cited the bus driver for failing to yield.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has asked federal authorities to investigate Megabus' operations. He sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood asking that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration determine whether the company is in compliance with all applicable regulations for the motorcoach industry.

Motorcoach Safety Issues

The problems with the motorcoach industry, however, go well beyond Megabus or any other particular actor. With the growth in cheap intercity bus service in recent years, state and federal safety inspectors have been hard pressed to keep up. The National Transportation Safety Board admitted as much in a recent NTSB report.

Much of the problem is simple math. According to the NTSB report, there are only about 2300 bus safety inspectors (2,327, to be precise). That may sound like a lot at first glance, but they are responsible for over 53,000 buses (53,097, to be exact). State and local inspectors are not enough to close the gap, as there are only 878 of those.

The effect of this imbalance between inspectors and buses is that far too many curbside carriers do not get properly inspected.

The Role of Bus Drivers

When inspections are not done, safety suffers. Too many drivers with substance abuse or other safety issues end up driving motorcoaches, even if they are not properly licensed. And this puts passengers, pedestrians and other vehicles at risk.

Individual drivers also can be negligent in many different ways. When they drive while fatigued or impaired, accidents often result.

If you were injured in such an accident, or someone in your family was killed, it makes sense to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your legal options for seeking financial compensation.

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