The recent bus accident on Interstate 270 yesterday, which claimed the life of the driver and injured a number of passengers including many children, reminds us of the random nature of highway traffic accidents. In this instance, the commercial vehicle was a chartered bus carrying 11 people back home from a trip to Washington, D.C. As a Maryland trucking accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys, our thoughts go out to the families of the victims and we all wish the survivors a speedy recovery from their injuries.
Of course, the Interstate Commerce Commission long ago instituted safety regulations to help protect both motorists and the occupants of commercial vehicles from the numerous and potentially deadly consequences of poorly maintained and operated delivery trucks, interstate buses, and 18-wheelers traveling on public roads. It’s no surprise that car accidents involving large commercial vehicles can lead to multiple fatailities.
For anyone interested, those regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, which was established for the express purpose to “help reduce or prevent truck and bus accidents, fatalities and injuries.” [Refer to 49 CFR 383.1(a)]. In fact, by requiring drivers to maintain a single nationwide commercial motor vehicle driver’s license the federal government was trying to keep unqualified and potentially dangerous individuals from driving commercial motor vehicles on our highways and byways.
Although authorities believe the vehicle was in good mechanical condition with no obvious signs of defective equipment, they still don’t know the cause of that terrible crash on I-270 in Bethesda. Until a complete investigation is conducted there is no way to know if the accident was a result of driver error or due to other factors; with the recent onslaught of drenching rain, the weather itself cannot be ruled out as a contributing factor in this awful crash.
According to news reports, several adults and six children (aged 7 to 12 years old) were hospitalized following a crash that sent an out-of-state tour bus down a 50-foot embankment off of I-280 in Montgomery County. For an as yet undetermined reason the bus left the roadway, crashed through a safety guardrail and then rolled to the bottom, killing the driver, 66-year-old Joseph Clabaugh Jr.
Based on police reports, the accident occurred at around 4pm as the vehicle was heading home to Pennsylvania from the District. A Maryland State Police inspector working in the state’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division reportedly conducted a full mechanical inspection of the bus just after the crash and the bus was declared in good working order.
As of Thursday afternoon, four patients remained at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda in fair to good condition, according to police. All of the children had previously been released, some of the kids needed stitches and treatment for bruises from the crash.
Cause Of Bus Crash Remains A Mystery, WGAL.com, October 1, 2010
4 adults still hospitatized after bus crash, WashingtonPost.com, October 1, 2010