According to an article in The Guardian in early September, 17 people were injured when the roof of a double decker bus was torn off after being driven into a bridge on Milkstone Road in Rochdale. Greater Manchester police said that it would be carrying out a full investigation.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, has dealt with a number of cases where buses and minibuses have been involved in accidents with multiple passengers being injured. She said: “ It is clear that the bus driver attempted to take the bus under a bridge which simply wasn’t of sufficient height to permit safe passage. What isn’t clear is why the bus was travelling on a route with an impassable bridge and why the driver attempted to drive under it. It is understood that the injuries sustained were not critical but this is an incident that could have had catastrophic consequences.
“The bus operator, First Bus, will be liable to all passengers who suffered injury if the accident is found to be due to errors on the part of the driver employed by them. It should not be difficult to establish liability and recover compensation. But First Bus will need to look carefully at how and why this incident happened. Did the driver have sufficient training to be operating the double decker bus (it was indicated that the driver has only been employed by First Bus for a few months)? Was the height of the bus and the height of the bridge clear to the driver? What resources are available to drivers to advise of suitable routes for their buses? If this route wasn’t the ‘normal’ route, why was the bus on it? All of these are questions to be asked.
“One would expect that, with proper training and procedures in place, this sort of incident shouldn’t occur so it will be interesting to see the findings of the police investigation and what steps First Bus will take to prevent similar further incidents.”