It appears that driver fatigue among commercial vehicle drivers is becoming a grave concern in California. A fatal bus crash in California’s Central Valley in August 2016 was caused by a ‘severely sleep-deprived driver’ and a bus company with an abysmal safety record, according to federal investigators in a report released November 13. This is an alarming development for Southern California drivers, many of whom spend long hours commuting to and from work each day.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the bus driver in the fatal crash had slept only five hours over the previous 40 hours before the Aug. 2, 2016 wreck. The bus was going from Los Angeles to Modesto and drifted off the right side of Rt. 99. It hit a highway signpost that almost tore the bus in half. There were no skid marks or any indications the bus driver tried to avoid or prevent the crash.
In addition to fatigue, the NTSB stated another factor was poor federal agency oversight in regulating bus safety. Autobuses Coordinados USA Inc., based in Fresno, was allowed to continue to operate buses even though it had a very poor safety record. The NTSB called upon the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to update its rating system to ensure that companies remedy serious safety problems or be removed from the road.
Autobuses Coordinados failed 8 of 29 inspections in less than 24 months. Its out-of-service rate was 500% above the U.S. average. Still, it earned a satisfactory rating for safety from FMCSA. Three months after the fatal crash, FMCSA did shut down the bus company, but it was too little, too late.
This is not the only recent bus crash that led to fatalities. Fatigue also was to blame in a crash that killed 13 on I-10 near Palm Springs in October 2016. A charter bus going from a casino slammed into the back of a tractor trailer; the sleep-deprived bus driver failed to stop for traffic that had backed up due to utility work. The truck driver was also fatigued and had erred by setting his parking brake and falling asleep during the delay.
Driver Fatigue Is a Big Problem on California Highways
There are far too many deadly accidents on California highways from fatigued bus and truck drivers. The FMCSA reported recently that 13% of national commercial vehicle crashes are caused at least in part by driver fatigue. There are several reasons for this problem that leads to thousands of injuries and deaths on roads across America every year:
- The average commercial truck driver receives only five hours of sleep per night, but average adults need seven to nine hours.
- Commercial vehicle drivers feel pressure to keep driving, so they do not get enough sleep.
- Companies pay drivers by the mile, so it is common for log books to be falsified. The drivers want to make more money, so they drive beyond their limits.
If you have been injured in California from a fatigued truck or bus driver, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including lost wages, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages in some cases.
Have You Been in a Truck or Bus Accident? Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or your loved one has been hurt by a fatigued commercial vehicle driver, or for any other reason, you should have a law firm fighting for your legal rights. Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at Neale & Fhima will not waver before we receive a fair settlement or verdict for your bus or truck accident injuries. We can help you. Please request your free consultation today by contacting Neale & Fhima at 949-661-1007, or kindly complete our online consultation form.