According to federal officials, inadequate highway markings are to blame for the fatal Greyhound bus crash in California last year that killed two people and injured 13 others.
A report by the National Transportation Safety Board indicated that the lack of reflective warning markers on US Highway 101 made the driver believe he was in the connector lane when he was actually headed straight into a concrete barrier on a dark, rainy morning.
The California Department of Transportation did not properly mark the area separating the two lanes, according to the Board.
“This crash did not have to happen because the barrier that the bus hit should have been visible, even in the bad weather, but it was not,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr.
The bus was on an overnight trip from Los Angeles when it struck the safety barrels, flipping onto its side. Passengers describe hearing a loud bang and scraping sound for about 10 seconds as the bus skidded along the asphalt. Although the bus did have seatbelts only two of the 21 passengers were wearing them at the time of the crash.
“The crash would probably have resulted in fewer deaths and injuries if the occupants had worn their seat belts,” said Dinh-Zarr.
The NTSB has recommended that Caltrans add road markers and improve exit signage, and that Greyhound buses should brief its passengers on the importance of wearing seatbelts.
As a lawyer handling both bus accident and dangerous roadway cases, I see that many motor vehicle collisions, particularly bus accidents are caused by more than one simple factor. In real life, the product or the vehicle can contribute to the severity of the injuries, and the roadway itself may be a substantial factor in contributing to a crash. In this Greyhound related fatality, the bus could have had better safety equipment, the road should have been safer, and the bus driver should have been keeping a better lookout.