ATU: Driver fatigue top cause of bus accidents
In a report released on Thursday by the Amalgamated Transit Union, driver fatigue is the single largest cause of fatal bus crashes. In the report entitled “Sudden Death Overtime,” the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that 36 percent of motorcoach accident fatalities over the past decade were due to driver fatigue. The NTSB believes it is the top cause of fatal accidents, besting road conditions (2 percent) and inattention (6 percent).
The report comes weeks after a driver of a Sky Express bus allegedly fell asleep while transporting a bus load of passengers through northern Virginia on May 31. The resulting crash killed four and left 53 injured. The driver has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
“Hundreds of intercity bus companies – usually tiny operations that have only a few buses – get away with paying their bus drivers criminally low wages,” said Lawrence J. Hanley, International President of the ATU. “As a result, bus drivers are being forced to work 100 hours a week or more, often balancing two or three jobs, just to make a living. The unsuspecting customers get on these buses and disaster can strike.
“At the end of the day, technical fixes like seatbelts and driver training – while incredibly important – won’t prevent crashes so long as drivers aren’t stopped from getting behind the wheel on zero sleep,” added Hanley. “Any serious proposal to clean up the discount bus industry unequivocally has to include a solution for driver fatigue.”
For more, visit www.atu.org.