Today a tour bus carrying the Morehouse College band to a football game in Albany hydroplaned, crashed and overturned on I-75 in Henry County, south of Atlanta.
The incident immediately brought to mind the crash of a tour bus carrying the Bluffton University baseball team as it passed through Atlanta on I-75 in 2007, and the crash of a University of West Georgia cheerleader van on I-20 in 1997. I was part of the joint prosecution group in both of those cases.
Several Morehouse band members were taken by ambulance to area hospitals, while others were taken by a transfer bus to be checked out fro injuries.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, 49 CFR §392.14 requires:
Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by . . . rain . . . adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist.
The Commercial Drivers License Manual directs that speed should be lowered one-third below the posted speed limit in rainy conditions.
Chances are the bus has a data recorder to document the speed before the bus hydroplaned. My educated hunch is that the speed had not been reduced by one-third.
Ken Shigley is a trucking safety trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute in 2005, is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, and is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.
He has extensive experience representing parties in interstate trucking collision cases, and in the past two years has spoken at national interstate trucking litigation seminars in Chicago (trucking insurance), New Orleans (trial tactics and side underride issues), St. Louis (punitive damages), San Francisco (dealing with insolvent trucking companies), Atlanta (trucking insurance, closing argument), Nashville (use of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), and Amelia Island (overview of trucking litigation).
A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). In addition to trucking litigation, he has broad experience in products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Treasurer of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.