NTSB recommends stricter driver fatigue programs

In the wake of last year’s fatal bus crash in Virginia, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to be more stringent in monitoring driver fatigue management programs.

The NTSB’s report says the crash happened because the bus driver fell asleep. The report says the bus drifted across a road, hit a cable barrier and flipped. Four people were killed in the wreck; 14 were seriously injured. The driver survived, but was determined to be suffering from acute sleep loss, poor sleep quality and disruption of his circadian rhythm.

The NTSB says Sky Express, the bus’s parent company, failed to exercise the minimal amount of oversight of the driver, allowing the man to operate the vehicle while “dangerously fatigued.”

The NTSB is now asking FMCSA to build a program that monitors and improves driver fatigue. It is also recommending all carriers have fatigue management programs installed.

In addition to their original recommendations, the NTSB is also urging carriers to follow the North American Fatigue Management Program. The program is aimed at providing trucking companies with a best-practices manual for how they can implement the proper precautions.

Industry experts expect the program to be complete by the end of the year. Materials will be made available online at no charge to trucking companies while it tested by carriers in the U.S. and Canada.

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