bus carrying a group of tourists near Yosemite crashed on Saturday. According to a KGO News.com report, the bus was nearing the south entrance on Highway 41 when it lost control on a winding road. It went off the road and crashed down a ravine before hitting a tree.
Fortunately, no one was killed in the crash, but 15 passengers suffered injuries as they were reportedly thrown from one side of the bus to the other as it crashed. They were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
While the crash is still under investigation, authorities believe that excessive speed played a large part in the accident. A CHP officer explained to KGO that the bus was travelling at an unsafe speed at the time, and that other factors were still being considered (such as intoxication, mechanical failures, etc.).
In the past three years, much has been reported about bus accidents. Particularly bus drivers being distracted by cell phones. A number of accidents have been attributable to driver error based on inattentiveness. While the investigation has not yet revealed whether the driver was texting behind the wheel or talking on a cell phone, this would be the type of action that would lead to civil liability.
Essentially, bus drivers (like other Northern California motorists) have a duty to use reasonable care while driving. This duty includes the obligation to reduce speed on certain roads. Excessive speed could be seen as something that breaches this duty, which could make the driver legally responsible for the ensuing injuries.
In the meantime, the bus driver was not arrested and alcohol was not suspected to be a factor in the crash.
Source: ABC 7 News.com, CHP: Tour bus at unsafe speed before crash near Yosemite, April 14, 2013