Bus AccidentsThe Dangers of Drowsy Driving: How Fatigued Bus Drivers Put Passengers at Risk

February 15, 20240

Driving while drowsy is a significant yet underrated risk on our roads. Driver fatigue slows reaction times, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment in ways similar to alcohol impairment. When the person behind the wheel is responsible for transporting over a dozen passengers, the stakes become even higher.

Fatigued bus drivers put their customers in harm’s way every day throughout the country. Understanding these hazards is crucial for improving public safety.

Bus Drivers Work Long Hours

Bus drivers work long, irregular hours with tight schedules and demanding operational duties. They must remain vigilant in busy traffic and challenging road conditions. Research shows commercial drivers are especially vulnerable to exhaustion from irregular sleep schedules, long stretches of monotonous highway driving, untreated sleep disorders, and poor rest between shifts.

Drowsy drivers experience slower reaction times, reduced attention, memory lapses, and poor decision-making. These mental impairments make errors more likely and reduce the ability to respond quickly to hazards on the road.

Industry Pressures Are Rampant

Unfortunately, surveys reveal alarming rates of bus drivers struggling to stay awake at the wheel. An overwhelming number admitted to driving while overly tired to complete their route. Fatigued drivers are far more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in death or injury. Yet many pressures in the industry make it difficult for drivers to prioritize rest, leading to impaired motor functions, blurred vision, and impaired information processing and judgment.

A Higher Risk of Serious Injury

Drowsy driving bus crashes threaten the lives of passengers who have no control and often do not realize the extent of the hazard. Crashes involving driver fatigue are more likely to be severe.

Whether from highway accidents, rollovers, or collisions at intersections, injury risk elevates substantially if the driver has not had adequate rest.

Better Regulatory Oversight Is Needed

Public safety advocates have called for improved regulatory oversight addressing driver training, strengthened hours of service regulations, mandatory sleep disorder testing requirements for commercial licensees, and technologies to reduce risks from fatigued driving among professional bus and truck drivers. However, many bus companies face pressure to meet tight schedules, keep costs low, and turn profits in a complex transportation ecosystem.

Finding an appropriate balance between safety and productivity concerns remains a key challenge facing the industry.

Drowsy driving poses an underappreciated risk, not just for bus drivers, but for all motorists. Enhanced driver training and public education can help save lives by increasing collective understanding of fatigue-related impairment. Bus passengers also have a key role to play by speaking up when a driver seems overly exhausted and by avoiding unnecessary delays that make trip schedules even more demanding.

Collectively addressing this hazard better safeguards bus passengers, drivers, and all road users sharing the route. Making road safety a shared priority allows bus transit to deliver reliable, affordable service without compromising personal well-being in the process.

If you’ve been involved in an accident where the bus driver was clearly fatigued, contact the Cassisi Law Firm today.

Visit our office at 10208 101st Ave Ozone Park, NY 11416.

Call now for a free consultation on (718) 441-5050.