Many readers may have read about the truly catastrophic accident that recently happened in Northern California. Ten people were killed and many others were injured when a FedEx truck swerved across a highway median and into lanes of oncoming traffic. The truck collided with a large bus carrying several high school students and chaperones and both vehicles reportedly were engulfed in flames.
Although the accident is still under investigation and will likely be for some time, early details have suggested that this particular collision may be much more complicated than people may expect. Already there have been inconsistent witness statements and details that only invite more questions. However, there may be some similarities between this crash and other commercial vehicle accidents that can provide some clues as to what may have happened.
There is the possibility that the operator of the FedEx truck was somehow impaired. Many truck drivers work for long hours and may be drowsy behind the wheel. There are some operators that try to stay awake by taking drugs or caffeine pills, but this too could affect a person's ability to drive a vehicle safely. If the driver fell asleep or suffered a medical event while driving, it could explain how he lost control. It might also be why there were no tire marks or skids to suggest the truck driver applied his brakes before the crash.
There may have been defective or broken equipment on one or both of the vehicles that compromised certain safety features. After similar accidents, investigators may discover that a commercial bus or truck has not been properly maintained in recent history. The brakes may not work properly or the engine could be a fire hazard. The safety features that are installed in these vehicles, including seatbelts, airbags and emergency exit windows, may be inadequate or defective.
Whether the accident was caused by negligence, defective products, poor safety compliance or another reason remains to be seen. One or many of these factors could have certainly played a role in the crash. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, victims and their families may be able to get the answers they need to hold the appropriate parties accountable for damages.
Source: Fox News, "Feds to revisit bus safety rules after deadly California crash," April 14, 2014