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Highway markings blamed for fatal bus crash

A reckless or negligent driver is not the only cause of a fatal commercial vehicle accident. Highway safety features, even as simple as markings, can prevent crash deaths in North Carolina. For example, the National Transportation Safety Board recently determined that one state's failure to provide sufficient traffic guidance and highway markings caused a March 2016 Greyhound bus accident.

Two passengers lost their lives in the bus crash on a California-owned highway. Another 13 passengers and the driver also suffered injuries.

During the early morning, the bus was exiting left from the highway in rainy and dark conditions. The driver believed he was driving in the exit lane. The bus was really travelling in a gore, the paved area between the main and exit lanes, next to the exit lane.

An unmarked and energy-absorbing barrier, known as a crash attenuator, was in front of the bus. A concrete barrier was in front of the attenuator. The gore was not identified with stripes or chevrons which often distinguish a gore from the roadway.

The bus crashed into the attenuator. It then went up a barrier, rolled on its right side and came to a stop atop the barrier with its underside facing traffic. Two passengers were killed when they were ejected from the bus.

The NTSB concluded that the accident was avoidable. According to its findings, the vehicle hit a barrier that should have been visible even in the bad weather. It also found that the use of the seatbelts on the bus may have prevented the two fatalities and some injuries.

In its post-accident recommendations, the NTSB said that chevrons should be painted in gore areas and that signage in the left exit area should be improved. The agency also recommended that Greyhound have pre-trip briefings for its passengers which should include the importance of wearing seat belts.

Victims of a commercial vehicle accident may be entitled to compensation from another driver, a bus company or the owner of the roadway. A lawyer can help victims and their families determine and allocate fault and pursue a civil action in court.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "NTSB finds lack of adequate highway markings led to deadly Greyhound bus crash," March 28, 2017

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