72 dead, 196 injured in Bolivian bus accidents in January 2010

6 January 2010 a bus (Jumbo Bus busline) rolls down a cliff after crashing into another vehicle near Tapacarí, Cochabamba. 24 dead, 28 injured.

19 January 2010 a bus (Pullman Internacional busline) crashes into a truck parked on the side of the road between La Paz and Tambo Quemado (border with Chile). 15 dead, 32 injured.

21 January a bus (La Asunta busline) from La Paz to the Yungas region crashes into the Bopi River. 18 dead, 5 injured, 10 disappeared.

25 January, 2010 A bus (Cosmos busline) crashes near Tutimayo, Cochabamba because the bus driver was drunk! 5 dead, 43 injured.

30 January, 2010 Two buses (Potosí and Copacabana buslines) crash head on along the highway near Camiri, Santa Cruz when one bus invaded the other's lane. 10 dead and 80 injured.

Total for January 2010 - 72 dead, 196 injured, 10 not found. In most cases the bus drivers are suspected of driving over the speed limit. In one case the bus driver was drunk and in one case the bus driver did not have a driver's license.

In most accidents there were people unidentified because they didn't carry ID (or it wasn't found) and the bus passenger roster was damaged, unclear, not found, or incomplete (many buses pick up passengers along the road who are not registered). Always carry your identification or a photocopy of it.

Some accidents may be inevitable due to bad weather, rain and washed out roads, and perhaps landslides. However, bus passengers who feel the driver is driving too fast, erratically or unsafely in any manner DO HAVE THE RIGHT to stand up, go to the front and demand their safety be taken into consideration! In addition, nothing will change and nothing will improve if passengers don't report horrible bus drivers.

As long as they don't change their ways consider that it's partially your money that keeps them operating and your life is in their hands. Therefore it's your RIGHT to demand your safety be taken into account.

UPDATE: 3 February 2010. The Bolivian Government has passed a decree stating that any bus driver found driving drunk will have his or her driver's license suspended indefinitely.

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Comments for 72 dead, 196 injured in Bolivian bus accidents in January 2010

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Feb 14, 2014
Deaths and Population
by: Anonymous

You should also consider that Bolivia is a nation of poverty, and the number of private vehicles in the whole nation is low. So the high percentage of people who die every year on the streets and highways would be even higher if every family owned a vehicle.

I lived in La Paz for two years in the 1960s and went down and up the Death Road twice with Bolivian friends. We drove our own vehicles and had no trouble. I went back in 2002 and 2006 to visit those friends. Nothing much had changed in La Paz, except the rise in population and the traffic, which in the city is even more horrendous than in the 1960s.

The goverment of Bolivia, including the police, is corrupt, and always has been. No one seems to be paid a decent wage so they turn to graft and alcohol. Of course, coca leaves and alcohol have always been a part of their culture, but no one was driving fast 1000 years ago.

Jun 24, 2010
several dozen more dead so far in 2010
by: Anonymous

There have been several dozen more deaths in Bolivian bus accidents since January. The most recent accident occurred between Potosi and Cochabamba when a bus from the El Dorado bus line was speeding and went off the road, killing 14 and injuring and mutilating 20 more on June 23, 2010.

Apr 20, 2010
too fast....
by: Anonymous

Pray that all are found & healed by these experiences....driving too fast it not an option.

Feb 07, 2010
Drunk bus drivers to lose their licenses permanently
by: BoliviaBella

The Bolivian government took notice of the amazingly high number of accidents that took place just in January 2010 and the data for the fast 8 years (as you'll see below) and very swiftly passed a new decree declaring that any interdepartmental bus driver caught drinking while driving (whether he or she causes and accident or not) will immediately and PERMANENTLY have their drivers license revoked.

In addition, bus line owners may have their licenses to operate revoked, depending on the situation. For example, in some cases the bus drivers were also underaged, or did not have drivers licenses at all.

This has led Bolivian interdepartmental bus drivers to protest in defense of drivers! The public transportation driver's union has declared a 2-day interdepartmental busline strike for Tuesday and Wednesday (February 9 and 10) and will also be blocking roads between major cities.

It is interesting to note that the head of the public transportation union does not have a drivers license, as it was revoked!

The union has also announced that if the government does not negotiate with them, they will expand their strike and road blocks, and will request all city bus and taxi companies to join in.

To date the decree only covers interdepartmental bus lines and drivers. Authorities and the public, while greatly supporting this new decree, also widely criticize it for not covering ALL drivers, including city bus and taxi drivers, and every licensed driver in the country.

On the day they announced their strike and protest another bus collided with a cistern truck on the road between La Paz and Copacabana, plunging down a ravine. There are 5 dead and 35 injured.

Feb 03, 2010
Bus safety in Bolivia
by: BoliviaBella

An update: as of yesterday all buses leaving the bus terminal in the city of Santa Cruz were being checked by police officers who had the bus drivers show them their blinkers and other safety light were working. They were also reviewing every bus before it left to ensure every bus driver had a diver's license and every bus had TWO bus drivers, one main driver and one assistant. They are supposed to switch off every 5 hours.

Unfortunately, the TV station PAT interviewed some of the bus drivers and here is what they said:

"We pay the police officers Bs. 20 (about $3) and they ignore our safety violations." (such as no license, or no second driver).

"We show we have two bus drivers as we are leaving the terminal, but a little bit down the road we let the 2nd one off because the bus company doesn't want to pay for 2 bus drivers."

"We are only paid about Bs. 1400 ($about 200) a month."

Some blame the bus drivers, some blame the bus owners who are responsible for maintenance on their buses. Some blame the police. In the end, everyone expends all their energy blaming others. Is anyone really doing anything substantial to improve safety on Bolivia's buses and roads?

39.814 Accidents
The INE (Bolivian National Institute of Statistics) revealed that this is the number of accidents recorded in 2008 throughout the country. An average of 109 per day.

231.566 Between 2000 and 2008
Through 2008 this was the number of accidents recorded on Bolivian roads. The greatest percentage was recorded in LA PAZ.

8.499 Dead
Between 2000 and 2008 this is the number of people killed in traffic and road accidents in Bolivia. About 3-4 per day

Jan 31, 2010
horrible bus drivers and roads
by: BoliviaBella

I'd like to add to this that although Bolivian roads are generally in mediocre condition at any time of the year, they are much much worse during the rainy season. Please consider this when making your travel plans.

Bus drivers are often not well-trained, drive too fast (read about my bus trip from Santa Cruz to Trinidad last April), chew coca (they say it's to stay awake), and have no first-aid training or communications equipment.

Another problem when accidents occur is that often the injured, and even those who aren't, are robbed of their belongings. According to the newspapers today, instead of helping the injured in the two-bus collision yesterday, thieves pretty must stripped the bus of any personal effects they could find. And some apparently helped the injured off the bus only to rob them.

Between the awful stories we get through our forums about totally inept drivers of tour company vehicles (read more here) and stories like this about bus drivers, I'm just in a state of disbelief that someone doesn't do something about it!

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