Last May, a bus traveling through the Virginia countryside rolled over, fatally wounding four passengers and injuring several more. Sadly, this accident was not the first high-profile fatal bus accident to occur early in 2011. And, it wasn't the first to be blamed on driver fatigue.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), this isn't the only time that the bus company that owned the bus that rolled over in Virginia has had safety concerns, including driver fatigue. In fact, the New York Times reported that since May 2009, the company "has received 46 violations for fatigued driving."
However, fatigued driving isn't limited to bus companies that have repeatedly run afoul of safety requirements. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), according to an Associated Press article, reports that driver fatigue is responsible for anywhere from 13 to 31 percent of accidents involving commercial vehicles, including buses.
One of the responses to the bus crashes of early 2011 is the proposed Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011. The Act, if passed by Congress, would require improved bus driver training, seatbelts for bus seats, data recorders, and enhanced roofs, seats and windows to prevent collapses and ejections during rollover accidents.
The FMCSA is also considering lengthening the mandatory rest period that bus drivers must take to come into line with the rest period of commercial truck drivers. A USA Today article notes that when truck drivers had their mandatory rest period lengthened to 10 hours the number of truck accidents decreased. When this rule went into effect for truck drivers, bus drivers, thanks to pressure from the bus industry, were exempted.
Driver fatigue is just one of many safety concerns for the commercial bus industry. If you or a loved one is involved in a bus accident, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss all of your legal options for recovering compensation for your injuries.