Driver fatigue may be to blame for last year’s deadly bus crash in New York. Newly released documents show the bus driver was frequently using his cellphone and rental car during the hours he claimed to be asleep.
Documents provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that in the three days before the bus accident the driver was using a rental car and his cellphone during the daytime when he was supposed to be sleeping. The SUV, rented from Zipcar, accumulated over 200 miles from the bus driver’s use of the vehicle during his off-duty hours. His peak usage of his cellphone also occurred during the hours he said he was sleeping on the parked bus.
The fatal accident occurred when the bus was returning to Chinatown in Manhattan after a casino trip to Connecticut. The bus ran into a sign support that sheared off the top half of the bus at the windows. Fifteen of the 32 passengers were killed, and many others were injured.
Bus and truck drivers who travel overnight are particularly at risk for accidents caused by driver fatigue. Drivers are especially susceptible to falling asleep during the hours between 4:00 am and 6:00 am. The body’s circadian rhythms, the changes that occur due to light and darkness, tell the brain to sleep during this time period. If drivers aren’t well rested, it can be even more difficult for them to resist the body’s natural impulses.
Source: ABC News, “Driver in NY Bus Brash May Have Been Fatigued,” Joan Lowry, May 17, 2012.