Crash of Greyhound Bus from Los Angeles Highlights Problem of Bus Driver Fatigue
After years of considering the change, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally enacted a rule requiring that drivers use an electronic logging device to monitor compliance with rules regarding the maximum length of a commercial driver’s shift. Unfortunately, a recent accident involving a Greyhound bus is an example of the reasons such rules are crucially important to the safety of bus passengers and other drivers.
The FMCSA’s hours of service rules dictate that commercial truck and bus drivers may not spend more than 11 hours behind the wheel of their work vehicle in each 24 hour period, and no more than 14 hours spent working total, which includes tasks such as loading cargo on a truck or stowing luggage on a bus. In order to ensure compliance with these rules, the FMCSA requires all commercial drivers of large trucks and buses to complete a log of all their hours worked and miles driven. These logs are turned in to the FMCSA on a regular basis. Until now, drivers could maintain paper logs and still remain compliant with the rules. However, due to the pressure on drivers to cover greater distances in less time, drivers are often put in the position of choosing between complying with hours of service rules and satisfying their employers, resulting in log entries which do not reflect the true number of hours worked. This can result in drivers on the road long after they are still able to drive safely, driving while experiencing extreme fatigue or while taking unsafe stimulants.
As of February 2016, electronic logs are required under the rules, though fleets have until December of 2017 to ensure that every vehicle is equipped with an electronic logging device. Electronic logging devices have long been available and in use by some carrier companies, and experts believe that making them a universal requirement should increase roadway safety. Electronic logs are much harder to falsify, as they will be required to connect directly with a truck or bus’ on-board computer, measuring every mile driven from the moment the vehicle’s engine is started. The devices will also record the vehicle’s GPS location throughout the day, as well as the driver’s speed and the length and time of any breaks.
An accident occurring this month in San Jose serves as a reminder of why compliance with hours of service rules matters. A Greyhound Bus traveling overnight from Los Angeles to northern California crashed into a center median and rolled over, resulting in the death of two passengers and injuries to ten other bus occupants. Passengers report the driver mentioning that he was fatigued, stopping for a cup of coffee earlier in the trip, and nodding off at various points prior to the crash. Hopefully, changes to the ways in which drivers are required to record their hours worked and the amount of rest taken between shifts will make such accidents less frequent.
If you have been injured in a truck or bus accident in the Antelope Valley, contact knowledgeable and experienced Palmdale personal injury and accident lawyer Paul Kistler for a free consultation on your claims, at 661-206-6990.