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Mass transportation is convenient, environmentally friendly, and increasingly popular given the price of gasoline. As we gear up for a holiday season full of travel, it is likely that some form of mass transit looms in your future. While mass transportation is, for the most part, safe and efficient, the large number of people involved means accidents can be especially catastrophic. The recent crash involving a bus and semitrailer near Ann Arbor, Michigan is just the latest example of high-profile accidents involving common carriers.

Over the past year and a half, several mass transit-related accidents have cost dozens of lives and caused countless injuries. In March of last year, six college baseball players were killed when the bus carrying their team tumbled off an overpass and fell to the highway surface below. In that case, the design and layout of the highway off ramp was blamed for the tragic accident.

More recently, a bus crash in Sacramento left eight passengers dead. The bus was en route to a casino when it left the road and rolled over once before coming to rest. The driver was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, and an initial investigation shows that he did not have the proper license or certification to be driving a bus. The bus itself was apparently not properly registered.

Another allegedly drunk bus driver was involved in an incident in Tennessee. A school bus carrying thirty children was found stopped in the middle of a road with the driver passed out at the wheel. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Busses are not the only type of mass transit to be involved in disastrous accidents. Two recent Los Angeles-area train crashes have prompted some concern about that method of travel as well. Fifteen people were injured when a light rail train crashed into a bus. Fortunately, the bus was being tested by a mechanic and was otherwise empty at the time, or the toll might have been much higher.

The passengers aboard the commuter train that collided head-on with a freight train were not so lucky. At least 25 people were killed in that accident. Authorities believe the conductor of the freight train had been sending and receiving text messages immediately prior to the crash. Federal regulators issued an emergency ban on cell phone use by on-duty train workers as a result of the preliminary investigation.

On the whole, mass transit is safe, cheap, and "green." These major accidents are the exceptions to that rule. However, because dozens and even hundreds of commuters may be involved in any one accident, the potential for injury and loss of life can be staggering.

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