Coach Bus Crashes into Tree on Princeton-Kingston Road


A 2003 Coach USA Suburban bus ran off the road and hit a tree in a yard on Princeton-Kingston Road (Route 27) between Roper Road and Poe Road just after 7 a.m. today.

The bus was heading north on Route 27 near Carnegie Drive when it approached the rear of a 2002 Subaru wagon that was stopped facing north to turn left into a private driveway. The bus swerved right and struck the Subaru’s right rear bumper with its left front end. The bus continued to veer right and struck a roadside tree head-on.

The impact caused extensive front end damage to the bus. The bus driver, Derek Roberts, 53, of South Bound Brook, had to be extricated from the vehicle by the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, with assistance by the Princeton Fire Department. Roberts was transported to the University Medical Center at Plainsboro with non-life threatening injuries. The bus was towed from the scene by Stewart’s Towing of Belle Mead.

There were no passengers on the bus at the time of the crash. The bus was heading to New York from Princeton.

A nurse who was driving along Route 27 stopped to check on the bus driver, assist him and comfort him before emergency workers arrived, neighbors said.

People who live in the neighborhood say the stretch of Route 27 is dangerous because there is a slight curve in the road. Some residents say the speed limit of 45 miles an hour should be reduced. A landscaper drove a truck off the road a few months ago and the truck went through the same fence, neighbors say.

A Coach bus veered off Route 27 and crashed into a tree around 7:30 a.m. Photo: Krystal Knapp.
Residents say this is the second crash along the same road in a few months. There is a curve in the road and residents say the speed limit is too high. Photo: Krystal Knapp.
bus crash Princeton tow truck
More than a dozen emergency vehicles were on the scene, which took a few hours to clear up. Photo: Krystal Knapp.
A tow truck removes the Coach bus from the scene of the crash. Photo courtesy of a reader.
Police and utility workers at the scene of the Coach bus crash. Photo courtesy of a reader.


  1. “People who live in the neighborhood say the stretch of Route 27 is
    dangerous because there is a curve in the road and people often speed in
    the area. Some residents say the speed limit of 45 miles an hour should
    be reduced.”

    That is a MILD curve. I’m at least one resident who would like to see the speed limit raised to 50 – people have a nasty habit of driving far too slowly as it is, in the 35-40 range.

    Is there anything at all to suggest this accident was speed-related, and not just an issue of driver distraction?

  2. Stephen,
    Do you actually live ON Princeton Kingston Rd?

    I do, and on that curve. The curve itself isn’t a problem if you are driving on the road. It has to do with visibility when trying to enter the road from a driveway.

    Frequently when I pull out of my driveway, even if it looks clear, as soon as I’m out, another car is right behind me. Never mind trying to slow down to pull into my driveway, then it’s cars driving so close to me.

    Yes, cars might slow down there to 35, and I’m very sorry they inconvenience you, but it is because we need to so we can get into our driveways, want to avoid hitting pedestrians, etc.

    Additionally, even if it was a matter of driver distraction, this is a dense residential area. A car (or bus or truck) running off the road can damage much more than a tree. Such as, a resident. This is in addition to the high speed being very dangerous for pedestrians of both the Little Brook and Riverside neighborhoods trying to cross the road.

    This area is as densely populated as South Harrison Street which has a speed limit of 25. With many children living here. This stretch of Princeton Kingston Rd should be a maximum speed limit of 35, and sidewalks installed as well. Slowing down a bit will not cause anyone to lose a significant amount of time in their travels.

    1. I agree that the speed limit there should be lower than 45. The area also does need more pedestrian/cycling friendly supportive improvements. Route 27 is a wonderful historical route that goes through (as the “main street” of) many “downtown”, pedestrian and residential areas in central NJ. Route One was designed to be the speedy alternative to Rt. 27, not visa versa.

      1. “Route 27 is a wonderful historical route that goes through (as the “main street” of) many “downtown”, pedestrian and residential areas in central NJ.”

        I happen to live in a neighboring town north and west of Princeton. Were it not for Route 27 and Route 206 I would not be able to work anywhere south or east of my town without first driving north. Seems rather silly to treat a main artery for commuters like some sort of protected “historical tract”.

        Lowered speed limits didn’ help here:

        1. I’m pretty sure a 10 mile per hr lowering of a speed limit for an approx 2 mile stretch of road would not prevent you from your commute.

            1. You have no idea about what I fear or doubt.
              Please refrain from telling me what I feel. As for facts and evidence, I am gathering.
              In the meantime what is being discussed here is what I and others who live on this stretch of road experience, which you can read in the other comments.

    2. “Additionally, even if it was a matter of driver distraction, this is a dense residential area”

      That is the only part that matters when considering this accident. Many cars drive through here daily at the speed limit without incident. Speed wasn’t the issue. Why bring it into the discussion?

      1. Perhaps you haven’t been reading all of the comments through. Nobody is “Texas Sharecropping” or “Sharpshooting” or whatever names you want to throw out there to distract from the exchange. Fact is, this is a densely populated area, with many children, pedestrians, runners, cyclists, pets… Terrific that nobody has been killed so far, but as residents of this neighborhood we are routinely in peril as we are trying to pull in and out of our driveways, cross the street, walk our dogs. And this specifically has to do with the high speed limit on the road.

        1. Until and unless you can prove proof that any person is in peril then please stop crying chicken little. You are letting fear cloud your mind.

          What does “densely populated area, with many children, pedestrians, runners, cyclists, pet” mean? Relative to what?

          1. “You are letting fear cloud your mind”
            You have no idea of what is going on in my mind sir, so please do not presume to know such. Do not tell me what is happening in my mind.
            What I do know however is that on a daily basis as I pull in and out of my driveway cars are riding up my a** because I am in the process of accelerating or slowing down, and they are driving too fast. That is my lived experience. You do not live on this road, so you do not experience this on this road in this way.
            As for densely populated it means there are houses close together. Generally, that means people are living in them. Which means lots of people around. Also two neighborhoods across from each other on each side of the road we are discussing. One is called “Littlebrook”. The other is called “Riverside”. There is an elementary school in each of these neighborhoods. Also, houses, close to each other, with people living in them. This makes the area densely populated. Relative to an area such as South Harrison which has a 25 mph speed limit.
            As for runners, cyclists, pedestrians… well, I will start to keep count and get back to you, but seriously I’m not kidding. There are frequently cyclists and runners on the road. Yes, at the moment that information is anecdotal.
            I see you are looking for numbers. That’s great because when I start the process of trying to get this speed limit lowered I promise you I will do the research, and will let you know the precise density of the population and how many people are running and cycling on the road, how many people are crossing the road with their kids and dogs.

  3. To second Pam’s points: in addition to being a densely populated residential area, it is used intensively by cyclists and runners. The penchant for drivers to pass on the shoulders without slowing down will lead to tragic consequences someday. I also note that 206 has a speed limit of 35 even in the non-residential sections.

    Slowing traffic down on 27 also would have the befit of deterring people from using 27 as a Route 1 bypass. It simply is not designed for that kind of traffic and the congestion on Nassau Street is a direct cause.

  4. A “nasty habit of driving far too slowly”? Really? I lived on Kingston Rd (988) for twenty years, saw more than one fatal car accident, and lost all my pets who had an even nastier habit of driving far too fast.

  5. ^^ ETA: lost all my pets to cars driven by those who had a nasty habit of driving far too fast.

  6. …said Stephen, the guy who has never lost a loved one to a stupid and reckless driver. Oh wait: are you that neighbor dude in a Volvo who angrily tailgates me when I’m doing 28 in a 25mph zone in Riverside, where we both live? Yeah, that just makes me drive slower.

  7. I would just add that it’s really hard to get anyone to respect the cross-walk at Roper/Riverside and Kingston Road…even with an entire family and a dog in the crosswalk….even with a traffic jam visibly ahead due to a crashed bus this morning. People’s mentality is they’ve finally gotten free of traffic in town and they don’t want to slow down for anything. Or going the other way, that they’re going to enjoy the open road until they’re made to slow down by signals, but not before.

  8. As a truck driver who makes deliveries to Princeton from rt.1 and reluctantly from rt. 27 due to G.V.W.R. , they should keep it at 35 max when leaving Princeton, especially when there’s a downgrade hill which leads to an unpaved ‘lot’ for cars entering Carnegie lake. When there are over 15 pedestrian crosswalks, the BMW , Mercedes and Subaru’s of Princeton want to skidaddle their gas peddle once past Harrison Street. Waste of added 10 miles (35 to 45) just to go up the hill around the bend to go 25mph.

  9. “People who live in the neighborhood say the stretch of Route 27 is dangerous because there is a slight curve in the road.”

    I drive through here daily on my commute to work.

    Could someone please point out where this “dangerous” curve is. I have provided a map to help.

    NOTE: I was there almost immediately after the accident. You can clearly see that the bus driver made an error. Speed had NOTHING to do with it.

    1. It is dangerous because the curve causes decreased visibility for residents pulling out of their driveway who live on the curve, and for drivers to see them pulling out. For instance, I live on such curve on that road. I carefully check to see if any cars are coming before I pull out of the driveway. I don’t see any so I pull out, but just as a pull out, another car is zooming around the curve and drives up perilously close behind me. A slower speed limit would help that situation. Luckily so far I have not been hit, but it is still a danger. Similar situation when I am slowing down to pull into my driveway.
      As I said before, this isn’t dangerous when you are driving on the road, going around the curve. Then it seems mild. But for those of us who actually live on the road it is a different story.

      As for being there at the accident – it occurred across the street from me. I was the second person there. The bus was trying to go around a car that was turning into it’s owner’s driveway. It nicked the car then swerved off the road. Looking at the photos of the condition of the bus, it seems pretty clear that the speed of the bus came into play in terms of the damage that was caused.

      For someone like you who commutes into town, would slowing the speed limit by 10 mph for approx 2 miles of road in order to ensure the safety of people who reside on that stretch REALLY cause such a big problem? It appears that you are looking for scientific evidence that slowing down the speed limit would be useful, which I understand, but does someone need to be injured or killed before you can see why this is important to the people who reside here?

      Would you want cars barreling down your street at 45 (often 50) miles per hour? I believe there is a stretch of the Turnpike that the speed limit is 45. So in a densely populated neighborhood with a lot of kids, pedestrians, cyclists, pets, we should have to have that as well?

    2. > I drive through here daily on my commute to work.

      Me too. In my opinion, they should lower the speed limit along here. The crosswalk at Roper – whose brilliant idea was that ? Does it ever get used ?

      > Could someone please point out where this “dangerous” curve is.

      It’s a slight bend, easily visible on any map. It’s also a slight downhill, almost all the way until the lakeside parking lot … where there’s sometimes a speed trap. The grade makes it very easy to gather speed along this stretch of open road.

      If speed was NOT a factor, why was the bus driver unable to react in time, assuming the Subaru (turning left into his driveway) had working brake lights ? The circumstances of this accident seem similar to the recent one on Washington Road at the towpath crossing. A moment of inattention … I hope the bus driver is okay.

        1. Once again. The curve is not dangerous to someone who is driving on the road. It is a slight curve, as PBAC stated above, and the danger it causes has to do with visibility. As I pull out of my driveway, the slight curve causes me to be unable to see cars coming at me from around the curve (it is also a hill, causing more visibility issues). This is not hyperbole, this is the lived experience of those who reside along this stretch of the road.

  10. The bus driver WAS at fault. The Subaru stopped to make a perfectly
    legal turn into a driveway or street and the bus, for whatever reason,
    couldn’t stop and swerved. Double solid lines can’t be crossed for the
    purpose of passing another vehicle, but it’s perfectly legal to make a
    turn across a double solid line. BTW, I drove coaches for NJ Transit for
    over 30 years, so I’m not one who immediately looks to blame the bus
    driver. But in this case the bus driver was at fault.

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