“I remember waking up in the hospital screaming. I have never screamed so much in my life,” she said. “I kept forgetting where I was and I would just scream and not stop because the pain was so intense.” (Ganim, Zamost, cnn.com)
The quote above is from Elora Lencoski describing the night in late 2013 when she was a passenger on a Greyhound bus that crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer, killing one woman and injuring dozens of other people. Whether you regularly ride on a Greyhound bus like Elora did or on a New Jersey Transit bus like so many of our readers do everyday, the thought of such a bus crash is clearly horrific.
Just 18 years old at the time and a talented opera singer ready to attend a top music school, Lencoski suffered catastrophic injuries in the bus collision. These bus crash injuries included a brain injury and badly hurt leg. But the most devastating injury to the young singer from the bus crash was the vertebrae in her neck that shattered, affecting her voice box, and seriously diminishing her ability to sing.
Some said their Greyhound bus driver had red eyes when she was taking tickets in New York. One man said he saw the driver doze off behind the wheel. Another driver on the same road saw the bus swerving and remembers thinking, “They are going to kill somebody.” (Ganim, Zamost, cnn.com)
As the excerpt above from CNN references, it is alleged that the Greyhound bus driver fell asleep at the wheel causing this horrible bus accident. Of course, many of us know that New Jersey Transit has also had a driver fall asleep causing a major bus crash. Back in 2012, an NJ Transit bus crashed and put 50 passengers in danger when the NJ Transit bus driver fell asleep at the wheel.
As Elizabeth, New Jersey’s top bus accident lawyers, we at Mintz & Geftic have noted in previous blogs just how dangerous distracted driving can be, especially in this age of texting and smartphones. However, another major cause of deadly bus accidents and catastrophic injuries occurring on New Jersey’s roadways has been around far longer than cell phones, and that is driver fatigue.
A government study from 2012 found 37% of all passenger bus crashes were due to driver fatigue. Of the 184 fatal bus crashes involving a passenger bus from 2010 to 2014, five were due to driver fatigue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Greyhound Not Following Its Own Rule
Greyhound has had a rule in place that states drivers are supposed to stop about every 150 miles, get out and walk around the bus to help combat against possible fatigue. It would be great to see a company prioritizing the safety of its drivers and passengers with such a rule. However, CNN’s investigation discovered that the so-called rule is not enforced by the company.
In fact, in a deposition, their CEO testified that they have no system in place of actually enforcing the rule. He also acknowledged that some longer routes could have drivers going twice as far as 150 miles without stopping.
Another passenger who suffered through the bus accident with Lencoski lost his leg and sued separately. The jury in his case found that “Greyhound demonstrated reckless indifference to the safety” of passengers and drivers. The jury also faulted the company for “giving contradictory language in their rules and training” related to “fatigue level,” and not “enforcing their rules.”
He was awarded $23 million, and another $4 million in punitive damages. In addition, the jury tacked on $150 to send a message that Greyhound wasn’t following its 150-mile rule.
We suggest checking out CNN’s article in full here, where you can watch their video and learn about more details.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: 8/19/2016 – We have learned that two New Jersey Transit buses have collided in Newark, New Jersey this morning near the intersection of North Broad Street and Raymond Boulevard. It has been reported that one of the bus drivers was killed and several passengers suffered serious life-threatening injuries (ABC News). Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.
Please note this blog was published here on our site back in June.
Elizabeth, New Jersey and Newark, New Jersey Bus Accident Lawyers
Our Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey Bus Accident Lawyers give personal attention to all of our clients. If you or a loved one has been injured in a NJ Transit bus crash or a Greyhound bus crash, call us today at 908-352-2323 or send us an email by clicking here to evaluate your case.
Our bus accident lawyers serve clients throughout New Jersey and New York, including the cities of Newark, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Hackensack, and Morris, Bergen, Hudson, Union and Middlesex counties. We have offices in Elizabeth, New Jersey and New York City.
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“Asleep at the wheel? Greyhound fails to enforce its own safety rule” By Sara Ganim and Scott Zamost, CNN Investigations
“NJT Bus Driver Fell Asleep at Wheel on Morning Commute: Passengers” By Brynn Gingras NBC New York
Update Source – “New Jersey Bus Crash Leaves 1 Dead, 20 Injured” By Morgan Winsor and Aaron Katersky ABC News0