In light of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recent conclusion that a combination of driver fatigue and a lack of federal safety standards protecting bus passengers led to the 9 deaths and 43 injuries in the 2008 Utah bus rollover accident, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) is demanding that transportation regulators including the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) re-evaluate decades old safety regulations and put the ball in motion to quickly pass safer truck and bus legislation.
According to the NTSB, the Utah crash was partly due to the NHTSA’s reluctance to agree on and implement new safety standards including electronic driver hour-monitoring, seatbelts, and stronger roofs and windows. For nearly ten years, NTSB has been begging the NHTSA do act on proposed legislation in all of these areas—for large commercial trucks as well as commercial buses.
Currently, there are no roof crush standards for commercial motor vehicles, including trucks and buses, and a prevalent safety problem in the trucking industry is companies ignoring driver fatigue.
“The transportation industry has been aware of these problems for years, if not decades, and they have done nothing about it. Current federal standards are needed to save lives,” said Tennessee attorney Morgan Adams, a leading expert on commercial vehicle safety. “Driver fatigue is a killer and it will continue to kill until the government takes action. There is no question some corporations will overwork employees, and ignore problems, in order to earn another dollar.” –AAJ
Studies have shown that driver fatigue can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time as severely as being intoxicated behind the wheel. The NHTSA must take steps immediately to reduce the potential for truck and bus accidents caused by drivers not getting enough rest.