You may be surprised to hear that there is more than 100,000 charter, tour, and transit bus accidents in the United States every year. That’s nearly 12 bus crashes every hour somewhere in the US, most of them happening in urban areas.

Last year had some horrific news regarding bus accidents including fatal bus crash in the Bronx that killed 15 passengers returning to New York City from a Connecticut casino. This was followed by a tour bus load of Canadian tourists traveling back to Ontario that killed one person and sent another 46 people to the hospital with personal injuries.

One of the issues raised by bus safety advocates is the lack of laws surrounding the use of seatbelts. This was highlighted just last month when a tractor-trailer clipped a bus full of students, flipping the bus onto its side, ejecting a 9-year-old boy out the hatch on the roof and sending 32 people – 29 of them children – to the hospital with serious personal injuries.

Now, a new study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that the fatal bus accident rate for discount intercity carriers is seven times higher than the rate for conventional bus operations.

Why are tour buses and charter buses more prone to accidents than other operators?

NTSB Findings

The NTSB research intended to study curbside bus companies as a distinct sector of the interstate motorcoach carrier industry. These curbside motor coach operations are defined as “interstate bus companies that conduct scheduled trips between cities and serve passengers at locations other than bus terminals.”

These operations pick up passengers at a series of advertised locations and bring them to destinations such as casinos and other attractions. The study set out to compare relative safety records and evaluate existing federal safety oversight of these companies.

NTSB Researchers found that:

  • Newer and smaller companies have a higher accident rate – Ten is the magic number. Tour and Charter operations with ten or less buses or have been in operation less than 10 years have both higher bus accident rates and higher violation rates during roadside inspections.
  • Higher fatal accident rate – The six-year fatal accident rate for curbside carriers leading up to March 2011 (the date of the Bronx fatal bus crash) was seven times the rate of terminal-based bus operations.
  • Less Regulation – Terminal operations are easier to monitor and inspect. However, because pick up and drop off is often by appointment or not in established bus areas, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has found it difficult to fully inspect these operations to detect and enforce safety violations.
  • Lack of regulation resources – The FMCSA, like many organizations, runs o a shoestring budget and thus does not have budget or manpower to regulate properly. In fact, the organization only has 1.15 investigators for every 1,000 motor carriers nationwide. To ensure compliance with federal regulations, the NTSB recommends an increase in the number of inspectors.
  • Operator hours – The FMCSA has been going back and forth with carriers and the trucking industry about the issue of number of hours worked, number of breaks, and operator fatigue. Fatigue is one of the biggest causes of bus and trucking accidents.
  • Regulating curbside ticket brokers – Curbside ticket brokers can be potentially regulated by many agencies, but the NTSB recommends that the FMCSA be given the authority to regulate them both on site and online.

Charter Bus and Tour Bus Safety

In Washington State and across the country, there are major problems with bus safety overall. In 2010, Texas implemented a program to install seatbelts into all school buses. This has run into serious budgetary and monitoring issues. Almost every school district has put up resistance, not because they’re not concerned about safety, but because they were given the order to do the task, but no money with which to achieve it.

With this as an example and a fair amount of lobbying money, the bussing industry has been successful in staving off many regulations that may prove to save lives. However, as more people die and studies are conducted, they will not be able to stop the inevitable. That is why many regulators and legislators from around the country are contemplating some sweeping changes.

Some of these regulations are:

  • Seat belts – Industry representatives contend that the installation of seat belts would be cost prohibitive, raise operating costs, and thus ticket prices in an already struggling industry. They cite that there is little evidence that seat belts on busses would save lives. This is the same argument that the car industry used to fight installing seatbelts in cars and they have long been proven wrong. The bussing industry also says they cannot control who uses the belts, however, safety advocates say that passengers should be given the option.
  • Training – According to regulators and safety advocates, more stringent training and supervised driving time would go a long way to improving safety. Industry reps dispute that their training standards are strict enough and say that these regulations may shrink the pool of drivers and raise the cost of eligible drivers, thus driving up operating costs.
  • Operator rules – Regulating strict rules around when and how long an operator can drive, plus the number of breaks, will go a long way to increasing safety by curbing driver fatigue. The NTSB says that 36% of motor coach collision deaths during the past 10 years have been caused by driver fatigue. This needs to change.
  • Crash Sensors – In the coming years you will see some innovative new technology that will help drivers avoid accidents such as crash sensors that not only tell the driver how many cars are around them, but also where the cars are located. Some bus companies have utilized this technology, but the majority has not. This will go a long way to preventing accidents involving lane changes and narrow roads.

Washington Bus Accident Lawyer

When people are on vacation or wishing to move a large group from one place to another, they choose charter bus companies because they have trained drivers who know the area and are licensed to drive large vehicles. However, if this employee is under paid and forced to work long hours to make ends meet or is not adequately trained, this can put passenger’s lives in jeopardy.

If you or someone you know has sustained an injury in a bus accident some of the best advice you can get is to seek legal council from a law firm that is successful in bus accident litigation. Call Phillips Law Firm for a consultation.


Washington State has a robust population of Native American residents living both in and out of reservations. As with any statistically measurable group, driving to work and conducting errands is a normal part daily life for almost all Native Americans. However, it seems that this group as well as Native Alaskans tend to be killed in a car accident far more that of any other minority group in the United States.

Washington State is aggressively moving towards eliminating road deaths for good. Governor Chris Gregoire has introduced a program called Target Zero with the aim to eliminate car accident deaths on Washington Roads by 2030. One step in this daunting effort is to touch the most at risk groups.

One of the obstacles is that Washington Tribes may not have rules or laws that mimic the efforts of Target Zero in order for the program to be a 100% success. However, there has been a national call to raise awareness of this disparity in motorist death.

More Research = More Concern

New research from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a review of the evidence on risk factors and interventions addressing this disparity published in the January issue of Epidemiologic Reviews, has highlighted the fact that there needs to be more research and programs to address the elevated rate of motor vehicle-related deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native populations.


The research team conducted a systematic review of literature published over the past 20 years and found only peer-reviewed 7 studies across all academic sources and government agencies described the problem in any way and tested interventions.

“The small number of studies in the peer-reviewed literature is surprising given the enormous human and economic impact of motor vehicle-related deaths in this population,” said lead study author Keshia Pollack, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, part of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If injury disparities are going to be eliminated, support for research and programs targeting those groups disproportionately impacted needs to be made more readily available.”

Researchers identified published studies in peer-reviewed Journals between 1990 and 2011. They also searched websites such as Indian Health Service (IHS), the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and issues of the IHS Primary Care Provider, a journal devoted to IHS articles and tribal and urban Indian health care professional providers.

The study data found that, even though car accident deaths are declining overall in the U.S., deaths are highest among American Indian and Alaska Natives. According to the Center for Disease Control, car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury among Native Americans ages one to 44. Adult motor vehicle-related death rates for Native Americans are more than twice that of whites and almost twice that of African Americans and three times the rate for the Asian and Pacific Islander population – the population with the lowest rate.

The existing literature suggests that multiple risk factors involving behavior, policy, and environmental factors are behind the disparity. These include:

  • Living in rural communities – Statistically rural communities of any demographic have higher death rates over urban areas. This is due to speeding, lack of enforcement, and merging from rural roads to high speed highways.
  • Road conditions in rural areas and/or reservations – Directly related to availability to services such as road clearing, utility services, and emergency services in the event of an accident.
  • Availability of alcohol – Many Native American communities have lowered or eliminated the availability of alcohol, however, this does not curb the lowered or less stringent enforcement in some communities, which invariably lead to higher DUI related death rates.
  • Pedestrian involvement in crashes – Lack of proper sidewalks and crosswalks in many rural communities is a concern regardless of the demographic, but has translated into higher Native American death rates.
  • Lack traffic control devices – This is also a resource issue as flashing lights and traffic signals in rural areas can be expensive to put up and maintain.
  • Lack of artificial lighting – Like the lack of traffic devices this is a resource issue. Along state highways, proper lighting can be put up and maintained due to the power of state revenue, which may not be fully available to the reservation at the same level.

Researchers point out that frequency of pedestrian-related deaths is the one factor that is mentioned across all studies that they reviewed. The authors of the study were not able to identify any interventions implemented that specifically sought to improve pedestrian safety, however, there are many studies that suggest multiple affordable solutions.

“Studies like this give a bird’s-eye view on the problem,” said Pollack. “In addition to discovering gaps in the existing research and programs, we’re able to identify promising interventions worthy of replication. Priority should be given to interventions that combine multiple methods and use partnerships to change policy, the environment, and individual behavior.”

Seattle Car Accident Lawyer

One of the big parts of trying to achieve the lofty goals of Target Zero is to establish what is called a Traffic Safety Culture. This is defined as a culture that is aware that one of the biggest causes of death is road deaths and that this wholly preventable as long as a policy is in place to curb it. The Target Zero program has done that by providing a 4 pronged approach:

  • Education – Give drivers the information to make the best choices.
  • Enforcement – Use driver behavior data to help law-enforcement officers pinpoint locations with a high number of serious collisions.
  • Engineering – Use best practices to prevent or reduce the severity of collisions.
  • Emergency Medical Services – Provide high-quality and rapid emergency and medical response to injury collisions

By bolstering the funding and emphasizing the importance of these factors, Individuals may be safe drivers, but those who take their own lives in their hands by speeding, DUI, drowsy driving, and distracted driving need to recognize that they are putting everyone around them in danger, not just themselves and their passengers.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident anywhere in Washington state, you need a skilled lawyer to deal with the insurance companies to assure you the best settlement. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.


Dangers of Driving with a Cold


It is cold season and with all of these people walking around the streets or sitting at their desks sneezing and coughing and downing shots of Dayquil like it’s Jagermeister at a frat party, it’s no wonder that they may have some trouble getting home and sometimes get into auto accidents.

And if a person is sick and single, or at least left to fend for themselves at home while their spouse or significant other is at work, it seems that driving is required to get to the store in order to get some (any) relief…and ice cream. Walking long distances when you barely have the energy to lift your head seems overwhelming, but getting to the car is just as hard.

However, now science has stepped forward and proven that driving with a heavy cold can affect ability to the same extent as drinking more than four double whiskies. Wow, now that IS a frat party!

Driving With A Cold

Could the most dangerous people on the road potentially be totally sober, if not for the bacteria that’s trying it’s hardest to consume them? Safety experts suggest the answer could be “yes.”


British Insurance company Young Marmalade, which carried out the research jointly with UK car and bike accessory manufactuerer, Halfords, say that they have found a dramatic increase in poor driving when cold sufferers were subjected to scientific tests.

Researchers say that driver’s reaction times dropped sharply when they had severe cold symptoms, sudden braking became much more frequent and cornering became erratic as the test subjects were found to be less aware of what was around them.

The research team used what is called a “telematic” box, which records drivers’ speed, braking, and cornering, just like the little black box one might find on an airplane. After a thorough examination of the data, researchers found that a participant who had an “excellent” driving rating of 95% when healthy dropped to 60% when suffering from a cold.

Based on a common UK rating system, a person at 60% should expect to be involved in an accident and may be deemed uninsurable by normal insurance companies. It inspired Young Marmalade to issue a warning for motorists not to drive with heavy colds or flu.

“We would advise a commonsense approach. A heavy cold can impair a driver’s mood, concentration and judgment, if you don’t feel well don’t drive,” they said.

Cardiff University Common Cold Unit in South Wales has also come out with similar conclusions from research they conducted in 2011 involving cold and flu sufferers. They found that their subjects had poor reaction times and alertness, putting them at risk of being involved in an serious car accident.

Symptoms of Bad Driving

Though it is almost impossible to truly gauge statistically, insurance companies suspect sick drivers are responsible for thousands of accidents every year. Police warn that drivers getting behind the wheel while suffering a heavy cold could potentially be putting other drivers at risk and could be found to be driving under the influence (DUI) if they’ve been found to have consumed too much over the counter medicines with alcohol in them. However, they also warn that flus and colds can lead to dangerous, even reckless, behavior.

“Sneezing can be very violent, especially with a severe cold and causes the sufferer to close their eyes temporarily,” said Pc Steve Rounds, of the Central Motorway Police Group.

Symptoms that should make you reconsider driving:

    • Fever (100º F or greater) – Fevers can cause lightheadedness and confusion and have even been known to cause hallucinations if they are greater than 104º. Every flu is accompanied a temperature, but if it exceeds 100º do not operate a vehicle.
    • Headache – A mild headache and operating a vehicle can be fine, but a flu headache resembles that of a migraine. Light and sound are abrasive and painful causing the sufferer to close their eyes and beg for quiet and darkness. Flu headaches can cause blurred vision, excessive blinking, confusion, and severe shooting pain. You should not drive with those symptoms.
    • Muscle aches – These are irritating, but driving with them is not a potential cause of a car accident unless pain medication is taken (see below).
    • Chills – This is a sign of a fever and should prompt the sufferer to stay in bed.
    • Extreme tiredness – This is a very bad symptom to be driving on. Drowsy driving causes thousands of car accidents and thousands of deaths and injuries every year as tired drivers drift into oncoming lanes and off of roads.
    • Coughing or Sneezing – A hacking cough or excessive sneezing can cause the driver to take their hand temporarily off of the wheel and may cause them to close their eyes. This can be a problem when accidents can happen in a split second.
    • Runny nose – This symptom is just irritating and gross, but doesn’t really contribute to accidents. But driving with one hand while the other is occupied with a tissue only adds to the over dangerousness of driving with a cold.

Seattle Car Accident Attorney

Washington law is very specific about its reckless driving laws, including such things as tailgating, speeding, and driving erratically. Though it may be found that sick drivers are not under the influence of cough syrup or other cold and flu drugs, if they get into a car accident they could potentially be found negligent reckless driving by driving erratically.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident in the state of Washington, you need an experienced representative to assure you receive the best settlement. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.


People who are personally injured in a car accident know that one of the main procedures that emergency medical staff perform when treating victims throughout the process is preventing infection. This is particularly important for victims with open wounds and burns. However, medical experts have even found that patients without open wounds are in serious danger.

While victims are in the hospital it seems that they were still susceptible to infection and other illnesses regardless of the fact that the patient is in a sterile facility. Some assumed that the infections and other illnesses were due to proximity and environment (i.e lots of sick patients nearby), but new research suggests that a lowered immune response is caused by the personal injury itself.

These findings could potentially make the liability for an illness that might threaten the life of the victim suffered directly after an injury accident fall on the shoulders of the negligent party that caused the accident.

Post-Accident Genomic Immune System Research

The research was conducted by a collaborative program involving investigators from 20 academic research centers from around the United States, and appears in the December Journal of Experimental Medicine.This important study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found that traumatic personal injuries and major burns, set off what they called a “genomic storm” in human immune cells. The trauma resulted in altering 80% of the cells’ normal gene expression patterns. This has a major effect on the immune system.

They discovered that the genomic response to personal injury was essentially the same regardless of the patient’s individual genetic background. The genomic response in the immune system was also present whether the injury was caused by major tr

auma or serious burns, or if recovery is rapid or complicated.

“When this project was organized more than a decade ago, the question was raised whether responses would differ so much from person to person that no patterns would appear,” said Ronald G. Tompkins, MD, ScD, director of the Sumner Redstone Burn Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and principal investigator of the study. “It is amazing how similar our responses to injuries like serious burns or trauma actually are.”

The Inflammation and Host Response to Injury Consortium was created in 2001 to study how our bodies react to personal injuries and burns and what factors set off excessive, uncontrolled inflammation that can lead to the overwhelming body-wide infection called sepsis or to multi-organ dysfunction syndrome, a life-threatening failure of vital systems.

Blood samples were taken from 167 patients being treated for severe trauma at seven U.S. hospitals within 12 hours of the injury and several times during the next 28 days after the injury. The research team analyzed whole-genome expression patterns in white blood cells. Gene expression pattern changes were tracked and compared with samples from 133 patients treated for serious burns, 37 healthy controls and four volunteers treated with a bacterial toxin that produces brief flu-like symptoms.

The genomic changes in almost all trauma and burn patients in the study began with inflammation and with the first-response innate immune system accompanied by simultaneous suppression of adaptive immune pathways. Through the 28 day study period, these patterns changed only by intensity and duration.


Potentially New Personal Injury Treatments

These findings fly in the face of widely accepted theories that the initial “pro-inflammatory” response in patient is soon followed by an “anti-inflammatory” response that opens the door to complications like sepsis and organ failure. Instead the only differences between patients with and without medical complications due to their personal injuries were in the levels of gene expression changes and the duration of those changes. Even the volunteers who received bacterial toxin, whose symptoms lasted for only 24 hours, had similar changes in 40% of the gene pathways that were altered in the seriously injured patients.

This expression could last longer in burn patients, who may take months to years to recover from their injuries. Trauma patients, on the other hand, usually recover a month or two. So researchers said that it was entirely unexpected that gene expression patterns in burns and trauma patients changed in exactly the same directions 91% of the time.

“If you consider two patients with identical injuries from a serious auto accident – a 20-year old who is ready to go home in a week and a 55-year-old who is still in the ICU and on a ventilator at the same point in time – it would be logical to think that the complications suffered by the older patient must have a genome-based difference,” Tompkins said. “But it turns out that the gene expression changes are the same and the only differences is how much they change and how soon they return to normal. There are no new genes or pathways recruited to deal with those serious complications beyond those already involved in the body’s basic response to serious injury.

This knowledge allows the medical community to begin to design therapies to promote improvement in patients who would otherwise have complicated recoveries. It would also researchers to determine whether measuring genomic changes soon after injury can help them predict which patients will recover well and which will need more intesive treatment delivered in ICUs. This extra treatment can sometimes be harmful to the patient and could now be avoided unless they truly need it.

“The scientists have now created a detailed picture of the genomic aspects of this response, and among their findings are some surprises about the role of inflammation that could point to new strategies for treatment,” said Scott Somers, PhD, of the NIGMS.

Washington Personal Injury Lawyer

This is exciting for patients because with this knowledge they have a whole new understanding of the effects of traumatic personal injuries and burns suffered in automobile accidents that will allow first responders and trauma care workers make proper recommendations for patient care.

Phillips Law Firm is a law firm with a substantial track record of success Personal Injury Litigation. We take the time to fully assess the injured party’s case in order to assure that the victim receives the compensation they deserve. Call our Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free consultation.