Buses are a critical form of transportation for many people across the country. Students rely on school buses to get to and from school each day, while others depend on public transportation buses to commute to work or run errands. Buses allow large groups of people to travel together efficiently and economically. However, buses also come with risks if proper maintenance and operation procedures aren’t followed. One of the most dangerous scenarios is when a bus tire blows out, causing the bus to roll over. These incidents can turn deadly in a matter of seconds.

What Happens When a Tire Bursts?

Tire blowouts on large vehicles like buses exert incredible force when the tire shreds and fails. This can cause the driver to lose control of the steering and the bus to swerve violently. With the composure and reactions of the driver suddenly compromised, the bus can slide off the road or tip over on its side. The high center of gravity on buses leaves them prone to rollovers. Once a bus starts to roll, inertia causes it to flip multiple times before coming to rest. This subjects passengers to severe trauma as they are tossed around or even ejected from the bus.

Sadly, there are many examples of deadly bus wrecks caused by blowouts and rollovers. In 2023, a faulty tire was blamed for a tragic accident where a school bus rolled over several times on the I-84. 45 students were injured and two were killed in the accident.

Factors That Can Contribute

There are a number of factors that can contribute to catastrophic tire failures on buses:

  • Improper inflation – Tires that are under-inflated experience more flexing and generate higher internal temperatures. This can weaken the rubber and cause the tire to overheat and come apart. Checking inflation pressures should be part of the pre-trip inspection for bus drivers.
  • Worn treads – Tires that are bald or near the end of their service life are more susceptible to blowouts, especially at highway speeds. Tread depth inspections and timely tire replacement are critical.
  • Manufacturing defects – Sometimes a defect in the tire construction itself can lead to premature failure. Quality control during manufacturing helps minimize this.
  • Poor maintenance – Failures to properly align wheels, check for leaks, or repair punctures can all precipitate a blowout. Staying on top of maintenance is key.
  • Excess loads – Overloading a bus beyond its weight capacities stresses the tires and makes them more failure-prone. Not exceeding vehicle load limits reduces this risk.
  • Road hazards – Potholes, debris on the roadway, curbs and other hazards can damage tires and lead to blowouts if hit at speed. Drivers need to be alert and avoid obstacles in their path.

Mitigating the Risk of Tire Blowouts

To help mitigate the risks of tire blowouts and rollovers, commercial buses should be equipped with technology aids and safeguards:

  • Tire pressure monitoring systems alert drivers to any under-inflation or rapid deflation from a puncture. This allows time to stop safely.
  • On-board computers record data that can be reviewed if any tire issues are suspected or following a crash. They can confirm proper tire pressures were maintained.
  • Electronic stability control systems detect loss of traction and help drivers maintain control if a tire fails at speed. This technology has been proven to reduce rollovers.
  • Seat belts and advanced seating configurations prevent passengers from being ejected during a rollover and minimize injuries from occupants being tossed about violently.

Bus Driver Training

Bus drivers also require extensive training on how to handle blowouts and rollovers in progress. This includes emergency maneuvers to bring the bus to a safe stop as quickly as possible. Passengers also need to be instructed on proper positioning and bracing if a rollover seems imminent.

Blown tires and bus rollovers can have deadly consequences. However, with diligent maintenance, driver training, safety technology and passenger preparedness, some of these tragic outcomes can potentially be avoided. The responsibility falls on bus companies and drivers to operate safely within established guidelines. Cutting corners on maintenance or training is simply negligent. If an accident does occur, injured victims have legal rights to pursue compensation for their losses from any party proven to be at fault.

Those impacted by the irresponsible actions of others deserve justice. Visit one of our offices at the following addresses:

  • Tampa – 2504 W Crest Ave, Tampa, FL 33614
  • Petersburg – 520 2nd Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
  • New Port Richey – 5703 Main Street, New Port Richey, FL 34652
  • Brooksville – 1790 E Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL 34601
  • Seminole – 5290 Seminole Blvd. Suite D, St. Petersburg, FL 33708

Call now for a free consultation on (800) 800-4300.