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NTSB: Driver Fatigue Caused Fatal Bus Wreck near Victoria, Texas

According to a press release from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the board determined that the fatal bus crash near Victoria, TX, in January 2008 was caused by the driver’s loss of control of the vehicle after he fell asleep at the wheel. The driver, 42, drifted off the road and reacted by overcompensating once he woke up. He lost control of the motor coach and it rolled over onto its side.

The bus accident killed one passenger, and 17 other passengers suffered severe injuries. The driver and 29 other passengers received minor injuries. The NTSB discovered that passengers were injured from partial ejections as well as collisions with objects and other passengers inside the bus.

On January 2, 2008, the 2005 Volvo motor coach operated by Capricorn Bus Lines under International Charter Services was traveling on U.S. Highway 59 near Victoria, Texas, when the driver fell asleep, partially ran off the road, and then overturned the bus. The bus was traveling from Monterrey, Mexico to Houston, Texas and carrying 47 passengers. After the bus rolled over, a pickup truck struck the underside of the bus.

Through their accident investigation, the NTSB identified driver fatigue as well as lack of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversight of passenger motor carriers in the areas of operating authority, leasing agreements, scope of operating authority violations, safety rating methodology, and the New Entrant Safety Assurance Program and registration and use of non-Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)-compliant, passenger-carrying vehicles in commercial motor carrier operations in the United States.

“When we looked at the specific chain of events that led to this tragic accident, we also found numerous holes in the federal regulatory environment that allows a non-compliant motorcoach to be registered and operated on U.S. roadways,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The traveling public should expect that any motorcoach they ride complies with all of the safety criteria imposed on every other commercial passenger vehicle within our borders.”

The NTSB has issued 19 safety recommendations as a result of this investigation: 1 to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 11 to the FMCSA, 2 to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2 to U.S. Customers and Border Patrol (CBP), and 1 to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the International Registration Plan.

The NTSB urged the NHTSA and the FMCSA to work with the CBP to develop a process to detect motor carriers operating buses or other passenger-carrying commercial vehicles that do not meet U.S. safety standards. Such non-compliant vehicles should be placed out of service once detected. The NTSB also urged the FMSCA to deny or revoke operating authority for commercial interstate motor carriers who fail to disclose any prior operating relationship with another motor carrier, prior operations as another motor carrier, or previously holding a different U.S. DOT number. Such action on the part of the FMSCA should eliminate some of the loopholes that allow unsafe motor carrier companies to continue operating.

If you’ve been injured in a bus wreck, call an experienced Georgia bus wreck lawyer as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.