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Did driver fatigue cause Northern California fatal bus accident?

Last week, we discussed the fatal charter bus accident in northern California that left a 33-year-old man dead and 30 others injured. Since then, federal officials have been investigating the crash to determine what caused the bus to drift off of the freeway and flip on the morning of Nov. 23.

The bus, which was traveling from Los Angeles to Pasco, Washington, was about 100 miles south of the Oregon border when the accident occurred, and interestingly, had just been involved in a minor accident about 50 miles earlier.

At this point, investigators believe that driver fatigue may have contributed to the crash. 

Additionally, a spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that another driver with the company, Yellow Arrow Lines LLC, had recently been cited with an “out-of-service” order, which is considered a very serious and somewhat rare violation.

The agency spokesman said he did not know exactly what the citation was for, but they can be administered for dangerous driver behavior such as falsifying logbooks or not carrying a valid driver’s license.

There are strict laws in place that limit the amount of time tour bus drivers can spend on the road within a given period of time in effort to encourage drivers to get enough sleep. Drivers are required to keep track of their driving time in logs, as we discussed in this blog post, but sometimes the logs are falsified or left blank.

Driver fatigue is a known problem within the tour bus and trucking industries and can essentially turn a bus or semi-truck into a deadly weapon. It will continue to be a problem until tour bus and trucking companies receive the message loud and clear that they can be held responsible for the damage their sleep-deprived drivers cause.

Source:, “Bus company that crashed twice in one day was recently slapped with violation,” Ben Bergman, Nov. 24, 2014

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