Once again, driver fatigue is being cited as a leading factor in a fatal commercial tour accident.  The recent bus crash near Shasta Lake killed one person, and at least 30 other were taken to nearby hospitals.  The tour bus was en route to Washington State from Los Angeles, when the driver veered off Interstate 5 near Shasta Lake and crashed onto its roof.  Hours earlier, the bus driver crashed into a Denny’s Restaurant, although no injuries were suffered at this time. 

Earlier this year, comedian Tracy Morgan suffered serious personal injuries when a tractor-trailer crashed into a limo bus on the New Jersey turnpike carrying Morgan and his fellow passengers. 

In both collisions, truck driver fatigue was listed as a main cause contributing to the accident. 

Each year more than 150,000 people are injured and roughly 5000 die as the result of commercial truck/bus accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) a large percentage of their accidents are due directly to fatigued commercial vehicle drivers.  In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (check) reports that Truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all heavy truck crashes.   Further, a 1995 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study found that of 107 heavy truck crashes, fatigue was a leading factor in 75% of “run-off-the-road crashes.”

Additionally, working long shifts not only radically increases the risk of performance errors due to lost alertness and drowsiness, it also compromises a trucker’s ability to become fully rested even when they do have sufficient off-duty time for sleep.  

Currently, commercial drivers are not permitted to drive a truck or bus for more than 10 hours without resting for a minimum of 8 hours.  However, this still allows for fatigued drivers to spend 16 hours on the road during a single 24-hour period.  New rules are being considered to help address this serious issue affecting the safety of California’s roadway. 

For more information or if you or a loved one has been injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, please contact the experienced Oakland personal injury attorneys at Butler Viadro, LLP for an immediate consultation.