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Driver Fatigue a Possible Factor in NorCal Bus Accident

Over the weekend one person was killed and at least 30 people were injured  when a tour bus crashed off I-5 in Shasta County.  The bus involved in the crash had departed Los Angeles and was en route to Pasco, Washington, when it went off the freeway at about 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, about 100 miles south of the Oregon border. What is interesting about this November 23rd incident is this tour bus had already crashed earlier in the day in a Denny’s restaurant parking lot in Red Bluff. No one was hurt in the earlier restaurant parking lot incident, but passengers told local news stations that the bus driver looked “clumsy” and one passenger said he  thought the driver might have fallen a sleep “a little bit” prior to the crash, but wasn’t sure.

News reports of the crash revealed the bus was a 1996 Vanhool driven by a 67-year-old Los Angeles man. The bus was operated by Yellow Arrow, LLC, based in Othello, WA, and had no reported crashes in the past two years prior to Sunday’s incident. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but fatigue was a possible factor. The NHTSA estimates that there are about 56,000 fatigue-related road crashes every year in the USA, causing about 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 injuries.

Any preventable crash is always tragic. Although caffeine, music, cold air from an AC or open window can overcome drowsiness for short periods, the only real countermeasure or cure for fatigue is adqequate rest. Drivers of trucks and buses need to be trained that coffee or cold air are not effective methods of combating fatigue, and that when they are tired and feeling sleepy, they need to rest.