Early this morning, a Sky Express tour bus which departed out of Greensboro, North Carolina, crashed, killing 4 and injuring at least 50 others. Police cite driver fatigue as the cause of the wreck.
The tour bus, which left North Carolina at 10:30pm on Monday, was on its way to Chinatown in New York City. The bus veered off I95 north of Richmond, Virginia and hit an embankment, causing it to overturn.
According to USA Today, records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation) reveal that Sky Express has one of the lowest safety ratings of all motorcoach carriers. In the last 2 years, Sky Express has been cited for 24 fitness violations that were bad enough that drivers were prohibited from driving until the problems were remedied. An additional 46 violations were issued for violating rules governing the length of time a driver can be behind the wheel, and violations of logbook requirements.
This comes on the heels of another fatal tour bus wreck that likely was caused by driver fatigue. On March 12, 2011, a tour bus carrying 31 passengers, crashed in Chinatown, killing 15 people and injuring the rest. Investigators are trying to determine whether the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The bus company involved in that wreck, World Wide Tours of Greater New York, has also been cited for violations of driver fatigue regulations.
During the time period of March 28, 2011 thru April 6, 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted approximately 2,800 random safety inspections across the country of motorcoach carriers. Inspectors found so many violations that nearly 10 percent of buses or drivers were removed from the road.
As we have previously reported in our North Carolina Person Injury Lawyers blog, there are approximately 56,000 accidents each year that are caused by driver fatigue. While there are currently no tests to determine just how tired a driver is, an experienced attorney can conduct a proper investigation into driver fatigue, especially those required to maintain logbooks.