A double-decker bus caught fire last week along I-85 in northeast Georgia, forcing Megabus passengers to flee to safety and closing the northbound lanes of the interstate for hours. The commercial bus was traveling from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina when the fire broke out at about 11:40 a.m. near Lavonia, Georgia. Officials with Megabus said that some 80 passengers were on board at the time and all, including the driver, were able to evacuate safely.
It’s the latest incident for Megabus, which offers low-priced, one-way fares between major cities across the U.S. Just a week before, on August 2, a Megabus struck a bridge pillar in the median of I-55 near Litchfield, Illinois killing one passenger and injuring nearly four-dozen others. Police have said that a blown tire likely caused the double-decker bus to weave out of control and crash into the pillar. The same week a 76-year-old woman in Chicago died from injuries she suffered when a Megabus hit her as the driver attempted to make a turn on a tight downtown street. Finally, back in February, a Megabus driver was acquitted of homicide charges for the deaths of four passengers when his double-decker bus crashed into a low overpass in upstate New York back in 2010.
Megabus drivers have been cited for speeding 35 times in the past two years, including 14 occasions where the driver was traveling more than 15 mph over the speed limit. During those same two years, a driver was cited for failure to inspect or use emergency equipment, six buses were cited for no or defective emergency doors and more than 50 citations were issued for failure to properly log a driver’s time on duty.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Megabus officials said they are working with state and federal investigators to determine whether all safety protocols were followed in the accident. The bus that caught on fire was manufactured by Van Hool in 2012 and had passed a full preventative maintenance check less than 2,500 miles ago, according to Megabus. It is unknown whether the driver performed an inspection before leaving Atlanta the morning of the accident. Such an inspection is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of all commercial interstate drivers.
Sadly, the problem is not limited to Megabus. The Department of Transportation moved earlier this year to shut down 26 bus companies operating in the Northeast after declaring them “imminent hazards to public safety.” Because of their immense size and weight, buses can be particularly dangerous when involved in accidents with smaller passenger vehicles.
If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the experienced Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828.
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