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Rochdale Bus Crash Raises Concerns about Passenger Safety

By Principal Lawyer, Serious Injury

A recent collision in Greater Manchester in which 17 people were injured has raised concerns about the safety of bus passengers.

Low Bridge Sign

On 9th September, a double-decker bus crashed into a railway bridge in Rochdale. The roof of the bus was torn off entirely when it drove into a bridge that was too low in height for the bus to fit under. Such public transport accidents are rare and our thoughts go out to all those who were injured.

Fourteen ambulances were sent to the scene and Greater Manchester Police confirmed, "there were approximately 25 passengers on the bus at the time and 17 people have been treated at the scene for minor injuries."

Police are continuing with their investigation into the cause of the collision.

Buses and Bridge Collisions

First Bus, who operate the number 17 bus that collided into the railway bridge, are helping police with their enquiries and have confirmed that the bus driver was not among the injured.

The company also confirmed that the bus driver also had “a minor incident” since starting her role with First Bus in June.

Whether the bus route was appropriate for such a new driver – or whether the driver should have been driving a double-decker bus so early in her career – are, I’m sure, questions that will be addressed as part of the investigation into the collision.

Bus drivers should be trained in preventing bridge collisions and should be warned about routes containing low bridges. Network Rail, who are responsible for maintaining railway bridges, have produced guidance for bus drivers on how to avoid bridge strikes. The guidance contains some common-sense guidance such as knowing your route, knowing your vehicle height and obeying traffic signs. Similar guidance is also provided by Transport for Greater Manchester, who co-ordinate all public transport in the county.

Milkstone Road in Rochdale, where the collision took place, is on Transport for Greater Manchester’s list of low bridges, so I would hope that this information is made available by First Bus to all their drivers.

Ensuring that all drivers are fully trained and made aware of any hazards along their allocated routes is a basic requirement for all bus companies. This is not only to avoid risks to passenger safety, which should be their number one priority, but also to avoid any potential public transport injury claims as, through the principle of vicarious liability, bus companies can be held responsible for the actions of their drivers during the course of their employment.

Jenny Maloney is a Serious Injuries Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation to anyone injured in a road traffic accident through no fault of their own. Most claims are dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning there is no financial risk to you.

Call us 24/7 on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

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