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NTSB renews cry for regulator action after fatal bus-truck crash

It's got to be tough being an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency's experts go all over the world examining some of the worst travel tragedies imaginable. They strive to determine the causes and recommend ways to stave off future disasters. Too often their suggestions go unheeded and more deaths result.

This appears to have been the situation in a deadly bus-truck accident in April of last year. It didn't happen in or around Houston, but it is the kind of thing that could and so we think readers of this blog will find it of interest.

The Northern California crash involved a FedEx tractor-trailer truck, a coach bus carrying a load of soon-to-be high school graduates and a small sedan with two individuals inside. The bus was taking the kids to a college orientation when the truck inexplicably veered across the freeway median into oncoming lanes.

The truck apparently first hit the sedan and then slammed into the bus. A massive fire erupted. Ten people, including the truck and bus drivers, died. Thirty-nine others, including the two people in the sedan, were injured.

The NTSB conducted a 15-month investigation and in the end could not solidly conclud what caused the collision. What investigators did determine is that a lot of the deaths could have been avoided if improvements long recommended by the NTSB had been acted upon by regulators.

Those recommendations include upgrading bus interiors with more flame-resistant materials, adding emergency exit doors and better windows on motor coaches and conducting pre-trip safety briefings of passengers. They also include requiring buses and trucks to carry event data recorders, such as those found on trains, planes and ships.

Announcing the lack of determination recently, NTSB officials said they have been pushing for those types of improvements for more than 30 years, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to act. The officials say they hope NHTSA might now see fit to do something.

Even if the exact cause of another's act of negligence remains elusive it does not mean that the victims of serious or fatal injury accidents have no recourse. Consulting an experienced attorney is always recommended to be sure that one's rights to seek compensation and recovery are upheld.

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