Last year, a tragic New York bus accident left 15 people dead and 17 others injured. Now, new evidence shows that driver fatigue may have been the cause of the fatal bus accident.
The accident happened on March 12, 2011. The bus was on its way back to New York City after a trip to a Connecticut casino. The National Transportation Safety Board says that the bus was traveling at 78 mph in a 55 mph zone. Reports indicate that the bus hit a barrier before falling over. It then hit a vertical sign that literally cut the bus in half.
The driver of the bus claims that he slept during the day on all three days prior to the fatal crash. However, during its investigation, the NTSB found that the driver was using his cell phone and rental car frequently during those three days. In fact, his rental car showed that he logged close to 230 miles when he was off duty.
In addition, the bus driver has a criminal record. He also had his driver's license suspended 18 times from 1987 to 2007. He has been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Fatigue is a major concern for all drivers. However, it is particularly problematic for overnight drivers. That is because the body tells the brain to sleep between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Although the driver faces criminal charges, he could also face civil lawsuits. When drivers are negligent and cause harm to others, they may be held responsible in the form of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Driver in NY bus crash may have been fatigued," Associated Press, May 17, 2012