An investigation by CNN into the practices of one of the country’s largest – and most trusted – charter bus companies reveals the firm appears not to adhere as close to safety guidelines as it purports.
The analysis was prompted by a horrific bus accident in October 2013 in Pennsylvania. The Greyhound bus was headed from New York to Cleveland when it crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer. Hours before, those climbing aboard in New York recalled the driver’s eyes appeared red and bleary. Another passenger said he watched horrified as the driver dozed off at the wheel. A motorist trailing a few vehicles behind watched as the bus drifted across lanes. Later, he would tell reporters, “I remember thinking, ‘They are going to kill somebody.’ ”
The force of the crash resulted in one passenger death and dozens of injuries. Including one of those injured, an 18-year-old aspiring opera singer whose voice box was crushed. She can no longer sing.
She and other passengers are suing the bus company, alleging the driver fell asleep at the wheel because the company has not been enforcing rules intended to keep passengers safe.
CNN’s investigation delved into internal documents and learned that drivers for the company are supposed to initiate a stop every 150 miles. It’s an opportunity to get out, walk around, check the tires, stretch and ward of fatigue. However, reporters learned that this isn’t so much of a “rule” – even though it’s called “Rule G-40” – as a guideline. There is no enforcement of this measure.
Although it’s indicated in the driver rule book that bus drivers “must” get out to check the bus and stop every 150 miles, a review of posted routes – including numerous overnight routes – shows many in which there are no stops scheduled. That means it’s on the driver to stop. One of the routes the reporters check ed was the Atlanta, GA to Charlotte, NC route: No scheduled stop.
An attorney for the injured plaintiffs from the 2013 bus crash say the company doesn’t enforce the rule because it’s costly for the company.
We’re talking about the biggest bus company in the U.S. Some 18 million passengers ride these buses, which traverse some 5.5 billion miles nationally every year. Most of these trips are blessedly uneventful. But far too often, accidents do happen. In a huge number of those cases, driver fatigue is flagged as an issue. A 2012 study by the NHTSA revealed nearly 40 percent of all passenger bus crashes were caused by driver fatigue.
The Department of Transportation has pinned Greyhound with a “Satisfactory” rating. Its most recent crash occurred in January in San Jose, CA, resulting in two deaths. The state highway patrol officer noted in his report the bus driver mentioned being tired before the crash. It’s not clear whether the 150-mile rule was followed in that case.
One of the passengers from the 2013 crash has already prevailed in court, with a jury finding the company demonstrated reckless indifference to safety. He was awarded $23 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages. The jury also imposed another $150 punitive damage award to make the point the company had failed to follow that 150-mile “rule.”
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Asleep at the wheel? Greyhound fails to enforce it’s own safety rules, May 24, 2016, By Sara Ganim and Scott Zamost, CNN
More Blog Entries:
Charter Bus Accident Kills 9, Injures 44, May 24, 2016, Charlotte Bus Accident Lawyer Blog