In a city like New Orleans, there are many ways of getting around town for tourists and visitors. Some of those include cab rides, using the streetcar, Uber or Lyft, or tour buses. We like to think that all of these options are safe and secure; after all, they carry hundreds of passengers every day, so they must be safe?
Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is "No." Commercial carriers are not always safe, as was demonstrated tragically last week when a bus carrying visitors from a casino crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer on I-10 in California, killing the driver and at least 12 passengers.
The crash was tremendously violent, as the bus slammed into the rear of the truck's trailer. The Highway Patrol noted the bus must have been traveling at a "significant" speed when it hit the trailer as it forced 15 feet of the trailer into the bus. It is unclear why the bus was moving at such a high rate of speed, as traffic was slowed for maintenance work on I-10.
Given the hour of the crash, a little after 5 AM, it is possible that the bus driver had fallen asleep or was distracted, but we may never know, as he was killed in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the crash and will look for an electronic data recorder from the bus; however, the bus was 22 years old and may not have been equipped with such a device.
The bus had passed a mechanical inspection this year in April and investigators will likely look to whether the brakes were applied before the crash. An initial examine of the crash scene found no skid marks or other indications that the driver attempted to brake. This may suggest he had dozed off or suffered an incapacitating medical emergency like a stroke or heart attack.
As with most motor vehicle crashes, human error appears to have been the cause, but it may take months before the NTSB issues their final report.