Walking is a basic human activity that is frequently overlooked in the process of operating an urban transit bus system. There is a general tendency to blame the passenger who is involved in a bus-related injury for not being vigilant or not watching where they are going. While some accidents can be evaded if the person is aware of the hazard and is made alert to the danger; the fact is that most accidents can be avoided by eliminating the hazard in the first place and not placing the passenger in the position of having to be careful or watch where they are going.
Falling against a seat or any other part of a bus is one of the leading causes of bus related personal injuries. This type of injury occurs when the passenger is thrown off balance the result of some kind of unintended or unexpected change in the bus environment. An example of this type of event is the premature acceleration, deceleration and or sudden turn of the bus.
Passengers have a need to feel safe, for example, most people walking to their bus seat expect to go from a point A to point B safely. Upon embarking into the bus environment the passenger places his or her fate in the bus driver’s hand; and it is a reasonable expectation that the operator will take due care of the passenger. A bus company offers transportation services knowing that there are certain risks, and that they have a moral and legal obligation to manage and to make these hazards known to those who avail themselves of their services. In general, terms, the bus company must manage that which can be managed and control that which can be controlled.
A loss of balance will occur whenever the body’s movement shifts and is too far off its center of balance. Bus occupant injuries can be easily prevented when drivers understand how a loss of balance happens, and acted diligently to prevent it from occurring. It is important to note that poor driver training and human error will result in a hazard point for a bus passenger. Training of the bus operator is one of the most important levels of preventing this type of injury. To prevent this type of accident, the bus operator must be brought-up to currently accepted industry standards and practices. Preventive measures to eliminate this danger are quite simple …waiting until all passengers are seated before proceeding from a stop position.
Absent of any information, to the contrary, it is not unreasonable for a passenger to expect that a bus would be nothing less than safe. On-board bus mishaps are caused by an unexpected change in operations that do not offer passengers an obvious cue to attract their attention; rather, the bus environment remained deceptively the same; and it is not easy to distinguish that the bus operator would begin moving the bus prematurely before the passenger has an opportunity to take a seat.