You take public transportation to save money, help the environment, and for convenience. Because you do pay the city for your transportation, you assume that they will take measures to keep you safe while you ride. Unfortunately, the number of incidents involving public transportation is still unacceptable. Whether it is from an injury while not moving or a motor vehicle accident, most of these incidents can be prevented.
How Often Do Public Transportation Accidents Happen in Philadelphia?
Public transportation comes in many forms if you live in the downtown Philadelphia area. With SEPTA, you have everything from buses to trolleys to trains. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, public transit bus collisions with other vehicles has decreased between 2006 and 2011. In 2006, there were 7,645 accidents, while in 2011, only 2,715 were reported.
Fires were another issue the report found, and there were 303 fires involving buses. There were also unclassified accidents that accounted for the bulk of injuries. In 2011, there were 6,684 cases of uncategorized incidents that did not fall under either fire or motor vehicle accidents.
In public transit, there are two potential categories of injuries: premises liability and motor vehicle accidents. Not all motor vehicle accidents are the fault of public transportation. In fact, it may be a private citizen that causes the collision with the bus. Regardless, these two categories are those seen most in public transportation injury claims.
Exploring Auto Accidents in Public Transportation
Bus accidents occur like motor vehicle accidents. Whether it is driver distraction, impairment, or inexperience, all these hazards can create a condition where accidents and injuries are more likely.
When it comes to transportation accidents, you have two main types:
- Bus Accidents – Bus accidents can result in serious injury, especially at higher speeds. Bus occupants are not required to wear seatbelts. Therefore, the chances of a severe accident are more likely.
- Taxi Accidents – Taxi accidents can be as deadly as bus accidents. Even with the occupants wearing seatbelts, taxi drivers may be driving at higher speeds on the highway, which results in a higher chance of a catastrophic accident.
Common Causes of Auto Accidents in Public Transportation
While anything can cause an accident in public transportation, some of the more common reasons include:
- Driver Inattention – Distracted driving is as prevalent among public transportation operators as it is motor vehicle drivers. The driver could be talking to passengers, texting on the phone, or adjusting the radio. Likewise, it could be a distracted driver in a passenger vehicle that causes the accident.
- Intoxication – Unfortunately, intoxication is also a common reason for accidents in public transportation. Drivers of buses may be under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications.
- Driver Fatigue – Just like passenger vehicles, drivers of buses and other public transportation may be too tired to react to the road ahead. They may not see pedestrians, stop for traffic, or maneuver away from a potential accident.
- Poor Maintenance – Buses require more maintenance than passenger vehicles, and they often put on more miles from transporting back and forth. Therefore, it is imperative that they receive their checks, repairs, and any tune-ups necessary to keep them safe. When the city fails to provide these repairs, serious accidents can occur.
- Road Conditions and Construction Problems – It seems like any time you are in downtown Philadelphia there is a construction project of some type. These projects are meant to improve the city’s streets and sidewalks, but they also create congestion and increase the chances of collisions. While these accidents occur at lower speeds, the risk of one bus driver or passenger vehicle rear-ending another is more likely.
- Weight Distribution – Buses rely heavily on proper weight distribution. Whether a bus is traveling down the block or from the city to the airport, luggage and passengers need to be distributed evenly so that the bus can stop, turn, and accelerate properly. Also, a bus that takes more passengers than the recommended capacity could have difficulty stopping or be at higher risk for a turn-over accident.
What About Train and Subway Accidents?
Train and subway accidents also happen in the city. A train accident can occur when two trains collide with one another due to either operator error or a mechanical failure. Also, subways can derail or collide with another train. The cause of these accidents depends on the circumstances. In some cases, it is an operator’s error, while other times it is mechanical.
Premises Liability Accidents
While motor vehicle accidents are more common in public transportation, there are still premises liability incidents. These can occur in subways, bus terminals, and at bus stops throughout the city.
Some common accidents seen include:
- Entrapment – Most subway and public buses use automatic doors that open and close. Riders being trapped between the doors is a common injury. These injuries could result in a severe long-term disability such as paralysis if a victim’s spinal cord is damaged in that entrapment.
- Slip, Trip, or Fall – Bus stops, subway platforms, and train stations must maintain their premises even in icy, rainy, or snowy weather. You may trip on an icy platform and hurt yourself, fall down wet stairs leading to the subway platform, or fall out of a bus into a pothole because the driver picked an unsafe stop. These injuries can range from minor to severe. Cases of this type against the City or Commonwealth are very difficult due to “governmental immunity.” One can recover damages in very limited circumstances.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Public transportation injuries are not the same as regular accidents. In these cases, you are dealing with the government and filing a lawsuit for your injury against SEPTA. You should consult with an attorney.
To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with me, Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. You can reach me by calling the office at 215-987-3550, 1- 800-465-8795, my cell at 215-771-0430, or by completing my online contact form.