FMCSA Issues Tire Blowout Bulletin After Recent Bus Accidents

In the aftermath of most motor vehicle accidents, identifying evidence of driver negligence is always a primary concern. Just as important, a car or truck accident attorney must also consider whether dangerous roadways, defective vehicle parts or other factors may have led to the crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a safety bulletin to motorcoach companies warning them that excessive weight can lead to tire blowouts, a factor that may have caused two recent high profile bus accidents. Double-decker coaches operated by Megabus were involved in separate crashes in Illinois and Georgia during August.

The Megabus crash in Illinois resulted in a passenger fatality and multiple serious injuries when the bus careened into a bridge support pillar after a tire blew out. The bus was carrying 81 passengers, 47 of whom suffered bus accident injuries.

Less than a week later, a tour bus operated by Megabus caught fire on I-85 near the South Carolina border. The bus driver reported that a tire had blown before the fire erupted, but fortunately all passengers were evacuated before anyone was burned or otherwise injured. The rear half of the double-decker bus was completely charred by the time the fire was extinguished.

The FMCSA quickly issued a safety advisory bulletin stating that double-decker buses may be susceptible to overloading in excess of tire load ratings. The agency noted the increase of travel on intercity double-deck buses and the high numbers of passengers and associated baggage they carry, and pointed to potential aggravating factors such as excessive speed and high pavement temperatures.

The bulletin warned motorcoach companies like Megabus that it will immediately revoke operating authority of carriers that exceed relevant tire load limits. The FMSCA also announced that it will work with state officials to increase enforcement of safety regulations.

Whether passenger bus tires blow out because they have been overloaded or because of defective manufacture, the resulting failure to protect passenger safety can and should be held to account. Federal and state regulations strictly mandate bus maintenance schedules, and bus companies must ensure that tires have sufficient tread and are properly inflated for given conditions.

When complex factors like driver fatigue, violations of federal regulations and substandard auto parts overlap, a car and bus accident lawyer can help injury victims identify all potentially liable parties. A personal injury attorney can also assist clients by assessing the full extent of injuries suffered or the entire range of damages available for a wrongful death.