NTSB Blames Driver Fatigue for Fatal Bus Crash
In an investigation that’s lasted over a year, and one we blogged about just last month, the National Transportation Safety Board released its findings in a final hearing last week, pointing to driver fatigue and speed as the causes in a New York bus crash that ultimately killed 15 people.
The bus accident occurred in March 2011 as a bus carrying 32 people was heading towards Manhattan from a trip to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. It was before dawn when the bus hit a guardrail, rolled on its side and slid into a large sign post, shearing off the top of the bus and killing several people instantly.
In all, 15 were killed and 7 were seriously injured.
During the investigation, the driver, who has since been charged with manslaughter and negligent homicide, claimed the accident was triggered when he was clipped by a truck. However, there were no indications that such an accident ever happened, and several of his passengers said they saw the bus drifting off to the side of the road several minutes before the predawn crash.
According to the NY Times, the NTSB found that while the passengers were in the casino, and while the driver should have been resting, he was driving around the city talking on his phone. They said the accident may have been prevented if he had “not been so sleepy and had not been driving so fast.”
The investigation determined the bus was traveling 78 miles per hour, said to be as fast as it can go, in the minutes leading up to the accident.
As we reported last month, the driver’s license had been suspended eight times and he had been fired from other bus driving jobs in the past.
The company that owned the bus, World Wide Travel of Greater New York, has since been shut down. This accident led to a recent crack-down by federal authorities on low cost bus companies in the New York area.
The NTSB’s report made several recommendations including seat belts and shoulder harnesses on the bus, a more in depth prescreening of driver applicants, and stronger guardrails on the sides of the road.
Bus accidents this serious are relatively rare. More often, we see bus accidents in the city that result in several injuries or even bus accidents involving another, smaller car and the injuries suffered by the occupants of it. Regardless, if you are hurt in a bus accident, the damage can be life changing.