ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Troopers believe a rear tire blow out is the cause of the fatal bus van wreck.
We don't know whether the tire was faulty or whether the van ran over something in the road, but there are safety precautions we all should take before we hit the road. There are routine maintenance steps we all should perform on our vehicles, oil and fluid checks, and making sure our brakes and tires are in proper working order.
And then there are safety steps we can take in addition to proper mechanics, like making sure we buckle our seatbelts, drive the speed limit and don't overcrowd our vehicles.
At a full service island, much more is going on than just topping off the tank. While the driver may not be aware, the attendant is checking out the tire tread and pressure, and the fluids under the hood.
"It's amazing at the amount of vehicles that we see that are in really bad safety condition," said Tom Gieryic of Gieryic's Service Station.
At Gieryic's, someone actually drove in on this tire, clearly a major safety hazard. The driver is lucky they didn't have a major blow out. "It happens all the time. People don't realize, that's your contact between the vehicle and the road," said Gieryic.
A road that is unforgiving. Especially in three ton vehicles, like 15 passenger vans often used by daycares and churches.
Tom Gieryic says the state used to require yearly safety exams on all vehicles, which would catch safety problems. "If this vehicle did have wore out tires on it and that's what caused it, if that is the case, a yearly safety inspection would have caught that. They would not have been allowed to operate the tires in bad shape, or brakes in bad shape or whatever."
What that inspection wouldn't have caught, is human error. That's where traffic laws and enforcement come in.
"Anytime you drive a van with 16 or more people, you've got to have a commercial driver's license. You can't drive it with a regular driver's license," said DCP Cat. Wayne Jennings.
And when people pack vans like this, it's important that they strap in for safety. "If you overload the van with more people than what it's supposed to have, it's not going to have the number of seatbelts that's needed to secure the passengers in the van," said Jennings.
Taking the proper steps to make sure you can drive away, And get to your destination safely. Now even though the state doesn't require yearly safety inspections, it's a good idea to have one done on your vehicle.
Some important things to have examined are all the fluids under the hood, your belts and hoses, brakes and tires. Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 16 or more passengers, like the van involved in this wreck, is required to have a commercial driver's license.