Bus Accident’s and Brain Injury

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Posted on 23rd March 2008 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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I am a brain injury lawyer. What does that mean? It means I primarily represent individuals who suffer brain injuries as a result of the wrongful conduct of others. I represent them in lawsuits to recover compensation against the wrongdoers of such conduct. To take a look at what this means in general terms, check out my web pages: http://tbilaw.com and http://subtlebraininjury.com. For more about me and my background, go to http://gordonjohnson.com.

Why is a brain injury lawyer blogging about bus accidents? Because one of the chief culprits in the medical community is how little attention they give to brain injury, and bus accidents have as much potential for brain injury as any civilian catastrophe as imaginable. Let me explain:

First, virtually no one in a bus is ever seat-belted. This is particularly true in school buses and in rental car buses. Second, sometimes people are even standing in buses, especially municipal buses, like on Chicago’s CTA. If there is a sudden stop or collision, none of the safety developments that have been created to safeguard occupants in automobiles, will protect the passengers on a bus. Even notice that most bus drivers are now required to fasten their seatbelt before they drive off? Why is no one requiring the same for the passengers?

Let’s further examine what we know about safety and contrast that to buses. First, the safest position in a car, is facing straight ahead, seat-belted, with an airbag and a headrest to reduce the whiplash forces in case of a wreck. Each of these elements is important to provide maximum safety. Now, think of a bus.

Facing straight ahead. We know that if an occupant is even looking to the right or the left at the time of a collision, this significantly increases the risk of injury, because it substantially increases rotational acceleration. For more on the biomechanics of brain injury go to http://subtlebraininjury.com/biomechanics1.html Well in a bus, not only are the occupants not necessarily looking straight ahead, they may actually being seated sideways. This is a guarantee that they will be exposed to more force.

Seatbelts. There must be a bus out there somewhere that has seatbelts on it, but it is not a bus I have ever ridden on. In fact, the school bus industry has been fighting the implementation of seatbelts for years. How can we tolerate such idiocy?

Airbags. Without seatbelts, there can be no airbags. Primarily, the seat belt protects the passenger from hitting their head or being thrown from the vehicle. It is the airbag that significantly reduces the whiplash forces to which a person is exposed in a motor vehicle collision. We can’t even demand airbags until we can insist that occupants are seated in a position from which they can be protected.

Not Everyone is Seated. Would you let your child stand on the back seat of a car, while you drove down the highway? Not if you were sane, not if you cared about the law and safety. Yet, a child standing on the back seat of a car, is far safer in my opinion, than anyone standing in a bus, or commuter train. Simply falling over in a sudden stop without a collision, is enough to cause a brain injury or concussion. But if the bus collides with something, or worse, rolls over, what is to keep the occupant from being thrown against something, or even outside the vehicle? Anyone thrown outside a vehicle is at far greater risk of injury or death. I could write for pages on this topic, but there is really only one answer as to why this occurs: greed.

What we must have happen for buses to become as safe as cars, is a change in the culture of greed. All bus seats should face forward. All bus seats should have seatbelts. All passengers on buses should be required to be seated. When the all bus seats are full, it is times for another bus. Each of these items will add to the cost of riding buses, and that is the reason they are not implemented. Yet, in a society which puts such a premium on safety on the roads, how can we tolerate allowing greed and profits to take precedence?