Report: Bus Company Flouts Its Own Driver Fatigue Safety Rules

With summer comes the parade of charter buses in and out of South Florida – whether for senior group outings or athletic competitions or family vacations. bus

These operations are overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which reports varying levels of adherence to federal safety laws between carriers. The agency even encourages passengers to, “Look Before You Book” to determine which might be potentially unsafe.

Yet a recent investigation by journalists at CNN revealed that even a company with a “satisfactory” rating may not abide by basic safety rules. 

Greyhound is a bus company that ferries some 18 million passengers on its buses every year, its fleet traversing an estimated 5.5 billion miles across the U.S. each year. It’s been well-established by government research that when there are charter bus accidents, driver fatigue is a factor in 37 percent of all cases.

In order to combat this, Greyhound implemented the “150-mile rule,” referred to internally as “G-40.” It’s listed in the driver manual and it’s referenced in training. G-40 states that drivers have to stop every 150 miles to get out of the bus, walk around the vehicle and check the tires, stretch, refresh and complete a series of “short’term alertness management actions,” or exercises, to help remain “completely alert.”

However as it turns out, along the bus company’s listed regular overnight routes, there is no mention of those stops every 150 miles. That’s because as it turns out, G-40 is more of a guideline than a rule. Drivers aren’t required to take action and, according to the attorney of one bus accident victim, “They don’t enforce their 150 miles safety rule because it costs them money.”

In a deposition required as a part of a personal injury lawsuit, the CEO of Greyhound answered that drivers are in charge of ascertaining their own level of fatigue. He answered that drivers are expected to stop and to report those stops, but conceded the company had no enforcement of that rule. He also stated that on some of the longer routes, drivers were permitted to go longer if they felt they were Ok not to stop. Asked whether he would be Ok with a driver on one of these longer trips traveling 333 miles at a stretch without stopping, he answered, “It would be fine with me.”

In 2013, a driver on one of these routes did not abide the 150-mile rules. Other drivers recalled seeing the bus swerving. Passengers noted the driver’s red eyes as they boarded. Greyhound denies the driver was fatigued. But around 1:33 a.m., en route to Cleveland from New York, the bus crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer on the interstate in Pennsylvania. The force of that crash ejected one passenger, killing her, and injured several others. Among those was an 18-year-old aspiring opera singer, whose voice box was crushed in the accident.

One of those accident victims filed a personal injury lawsuit against the company and was awarded a total of $27 million in damage – including $4 million in punitive damages after the jury determined the bus company gave contradictory language in rules and training related to fatigue levels and failed to enforce internal rules. Jurors also opined the company demonstrated reckless indifference to passenger safety. They tacked on $150 to that punitive damage award, as a reference to the company’s failure to abide the 150-mile rule.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

Asleep at the wheel? Greyhound fails to enforce its own safety rule, May 24, 2016, By Sara Ganim and Scott Zamost, CNN

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