A commuter bus headed for New York collided with a mini school bus in New Jersey today. The bus crash injured 17 people, including two who suffered critical injuries. The commuter bus was headed north when it struck the school bus from behind. Both vehicles were travelling on the shoulder when the accident occurred.
During rush hour in many places, buses are allowed to drive on the shoulder to avoid congestion and keep on schedule. In places like Minnesota, the programs have expanded greatly and cover hundreds of miles of freeway. More than 10 states have such programs and as of yet, none have been cancelled over safety concerns. A common rule in buss on shoulder systems is that buses cannot travel more than 15 miles per hour faster than vehicles on the road and they can only use the shoulder when congestion causes traffic to drop below 35 miles per hour.
The collision tipped the school bus on its side and caused the commuter bus to slam into a tree. The injuries all concerned passengers on the commuter bus. Fortunately, the school bus did not have any children onboard and was only carrying the driver and one passenger. The two passengers in critical condition were taken to Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center.
In states that currently allow buses to operate on the shoulder, this may raise concerns over the viability of the programs. Safety considerations must trump the goal of getting to the next stop on time.
Source: The Washington Post, “NYC-bound commuter bus and mini school bus crash in NJ, at least 17 hurt; no kids on bus,” 10 January 2013