Hours of Service Laws Protect the Public from Fatigued Truck and Bus Drivers

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In March 2011, a Chinatown bus carrying passengers from a casino in Connecticut to Manhattan flipped on its side and slammed at high speed into a highway signpost. The post ripped the bus apart, killing 15 passengers and injuring 18. Those who survived suffered devastating injuries, such as lost limbs and paralysis.

Investigators determined that a combination of sleep deprivation and speed caused the catastrophic accident. The driver Ophadell Williams had slept only a few hours during the three days prior to the crash. Officials allege that Mr. Williams nodded off and could not regain control of the bus when he suddenly came to. World Wide Tours also failed to track driving logs and uphold safety standards, according to the investigative report.

Driving while fatigued is dangerous in any situation, but when the vehicle is a heavy truck or bus, the risk of serious injuries is compounded. Over the past two yeas, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has amended the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations that affect drivers of commercial vehicles. The HOS laws govern the:

  • Number of hours a truck or bus driver is allowed to drive in one stint
  • Number of hours of driving time allowed per shift
  • Number of hours of driving time over the course of a workweek
  • Restart provisions
  • Mandatory rest breaks every eight hours of drive time
  • Sleeping berth rules
  • Penalties for violations of the HOS statutes

As demonstrated in the infamous Chinatown bus crash, the adverse impact of sleeplessness on driving is too enormous to ignore. The new HOS regulations are intended to ensure that long-haul drivers and those responsible for onboard passengers get plenty of rest.

Topics:  Bus Accidents, FMSCA, Trucking Accident, Trucking Industry

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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